Yesterday I had my visit with the pandit I have to say that I went there expecting the worst and what I got instead was a very humble pandit who was quite willing to listen and provide the necessary guidance.
On Friday night before Karran went home, he talked to me about not making the pandit upset to the point where the pandit might decide that he was not going to do Dad's service on Thursday. I didn't let that scare me. I simply said that the pandit is not the only game in town and even if he was, this is not the only town and should the pandit decide not to do the service, I would fly one in from Toronto if necessary. I said that where there is a will, there's Savitree and I will find it. I called Prak in Toronto and asked him to make a few calls as a back-up plan so that if I did indeed need to bring another pandit, I would have the time to do so.
So this is how the meeting went: Mom and I got there at 10:58am for my 11am appointment. Pandit opened the door and asked us in. He sat at a table and I pulled up two chairs - one for me and one for Mom. I then set the stage for the discussion to follow. I told him that I was there for him to provide spiritual guidance and instructions about what has to be done for the various rituals in the next few days. I said that I received a great deal of well-meaning but conflicting advice which I have chosen put aside. I said that regardless of what the members of his church had to say about his competence as a pandit, he was the spiritual leader of the mandir, this was the mandir that Dad worshipped at and he at least made the effort to visit Dad once a few months ago when Dad was ill, which is more than I can say for the previous Guyanese pandit.
I then pulled out my notebook and told him that I would be documenting what he was going to tell me so that we were all clear about what had to be done and I would review the notes with him at the end of the meeting. He explained what needs to be done for Thursday's memorial service at the mandir. I wrote everything down and any questions I had about the purpose of the rituals, the time, the sequence of events and the necessary things we needed were answered very respectfully. When he was done explaining, I had a list from the extensive research I had done previously about Guyanese style rituals which I referred to because he had not addressed some of those. He reviewed the list and added a few other things to satisfy Guyanese rituals. He also asked if I would leave the list for him to review for the rituals next Sunday (the 13th day work).
He said that for Thursday afternoon's service, he would read a chapter from the Gita about the body dying but the soul living on. He thought it was an appropriate chapter and I agreed. I told him that since I did not understand Sanskrit, and I was certain that most people who would be attending would be in the same situation, I wanted him to provide translations of the text as he was reading. He looked very nervous and was apologetic that his English was not good but I ascertained from our conversation that it was good enough for me to understand what he was saying to me throughout the conversation, so he'd be fine to do the translation in whatever way he could. It's the intent more than the actual words and I got the sense that he was willing to make the effort.
When I was ready to leave, we talked a bit about my relationship with my Dad and about how I got my name. He said that going to the pandit to get a name for me was a good thing because chanting the name would bring positive energy. He then said the relationship I had with my father is the one that most men would want with their sons so I was blessed that my parents both regarded me highly. Now I know some of you are thinking that this was just flattery but he really didn't need to do that because our meeting was over and he had nothing to gain from flattery. I felt that it was genuine and sincere.
When Mom and I left and went outside I asked her how she thought the meeting went and she said that she thought he was scared of me. What's to be scared of? I am really not a scary person - well not unless someone ticks me off - and it takes a lot to tick me off. My kids know that when I am ranting, I'm not really angry. I just need to get things off my chest. It's when I get really quiet and my enunciation is more pronounced that you're in trouble. By that time, I've done my homework and you're going to have to work extra hard to win an argument because I've got all the facts to back me up.
I went home with a list of things to do and as of today, I have multiple lists - for each day, each event, and each person. We are still dealing with Mom's house. The movers are coming tomorrow to move Mom's things in storage. We have a lot of shopping to do for the various rituals and the memorial service for Thursday. I've been delegating like crazy so that I don't feel like a funnel. Fortunately I had a conference call with my siblings at the beginning of March and we discussed several eventualities, which included Dad's passing while the house was being sold. It's again fortunate that we are at least all on the same page or the others are willing to take directions when necessary.
Today was a busy day with sorting out who is doing what and when it's to be done. I worked on Thursday's program that will be handed out to guests. I am not quite done but I'm liking what I have so far. It really will be a celebration of Dad's life the way he lived it. I also worked on the picture presentation and song that I will be playing to accompany it. I have been working on parts of it for months and I was able to be somewhat detached from it because I was working on one slide at a time adding additional pictures to the presentation as I saw fit. Today I spent some time finalizing the timing of the presentation to the song. Well, I started playing it for timing and I started crying - sobbing really. I have not been able to cry. I even told myself that I had done my grieving for the past few years but I obviously didn't. I am trying hard not to give in to the emotions because there is so much still left to do. I want everything to be perfect for Dad like I've always wanted for him so if it isn't, it's not because I didn't try.
Bena offered to give me a pedicure this afternoon while I relaxed (she is an esthetitian) so I took her up on the offer except that I was working on my computer. Still, it was nice to have someone take care of me for a change. She is now giving Mom a pedicure and Sharm is coming over to get the same. What I need now is a nice long massage but that can wait for a week or so. Auntie Maggie and Auntie Rosaline are coming on Thursday morning so they'll be in time for the memorial service and they'll be staying for about 10 days so Mom will appreciate the company. I might even have time to steal away to get the massage.
I am so sleep deprived that I think I am walking and sleeping for the last few days. Last night I planned to go to bed early - like 10pm - but I ended up going at 1am instead. That's been the pattern for the last week but who needs sleep anyway? Is that over-rated or what? Just kidding. I'm trying to pay attention to getting sufficient rest because when I don't pay attention to my inner voice, especially when it tells me to slow down, I pay the price.
When this is all over at the end of the week, I will get back into training for my CancerCare 1/2 marathon in June. Only thing is that I have to present a paper at a conference in Phoenix the next day. I was wondering what I would do with my time now that Dad is gone. I don't think I'll have to worry...