Transcript of "Morning Glory Ambient Sun"
My father would sleep all day and was too weak to converse. Though he did have sporadic moments of clarity now and then. A few days before he passed, he wasn't verbally communicating, opening his eyes, or eating. He was able to follow some directions. He could answer "yes" by gently squeezing our hands.
That morning Dad seemed sad and was frowning. Mom pulled up a chair by his bedside, and her presence seemed to change his mood almost immediately. She plucked a tender flower from the back garden. Dad loved flowers, and he had been nurturing this particular plant for many years.
She brought it close to him to smell, and she told him about the colorful flowers blooming in the garden. For a moment, Dad's eyes squinted, opened in a slit-like shape, and in a trembling voice, he asked, "What color is it”?
Mom went on to describe the bright and beautiful violet petals. The garden was so colorful this morning with purple and white blossoms. Mom fashioned the flower behind his ear in a joking manner. Dad faintly smiled as he closed his eyes and, with a weak effort, turned his head toward Mom. They both smiled.
Dad used to bring smiles to Mom. This day, the favor was returned. Morning Glory made him happy. His frown relaxed, and he seemed to be at peace for the rest of the day. It always puzzled me why Dad loved this flower so much. Morning Glory blossoms seasonally under the perfect conditions and only for a few morning hours of the sun and that too only for a day until it withers the same evening.
Mom planted the bloom in his grasp. Dad held onto it until it wilted, and he couldn't hold on anymore. We kept him in our embrace until we couldn't anymore.
Soon after, like the weightless petals of a flower, his essence floated away with a soft, whispered sigh. Though his bed may no longer warm, he thrives in our hearts, where he sowed the seeds of love and nurtured unconditionally.
Until we meet again…
In loving memory of a doting father by his daughter
What was your inspiration?
My inspiration for this piece was derived from the memories of the end of my father’s physical life. I relied heavily during those last days on the crutches of what I understand to be the immortality of the human soul. There is tremendous grief in the loss of a loved one. Focusing on the moments of togetherness makes the trauma much more tolerable.
How long have you been writing? What got you started?
I started to explore writing when I was in middle school. I found solace in journaling. Over time, I have written about various memorable interactions and incidents in my life. A few years ago, a writer friend encouraged me to write about the loss of my twins. I had started journaling my anguish while my babies were in the NICU, and I hesitated for years in making my journey public. I was hesitant even after the chapter was published in her book. I received many encouraging emails and letters from other parents who had a similar experience and found their voice in reading my story. I hope that others continue to find a friend in the stories I share. I find that storytelling helps heal the cracks in my soul left by the passage of time.
Why did you choose this medium? What interests you about it?
I chose the medium of creating a video in my voice from the accompanying short essay narrative. I wanted to create it in my voice for my mom so she may also relish the sweetness in the last interactions with my dad from my perspective. I wanted her to know and feel the love and the appreciation I have for the privilege of witnessing their intimate moments. There are lessons for me to learn and adding pictures of them to the video adds a humanizing touch and makes the experience so much more real.
How does this submission relate to your medical practice?
My personal experiences with my patients, family and friends at the end of life have taught me many invaluable lessons. I am convinced that it is never too late to enhance a person’s well-being and quality of life. Each person is unique, and there isn’t a “one size fits all” treatment plan. I foster a supportive partnership with patients in goal setting and designing a collaborative plan to meet their health care needs. This submission is a tender recollection of one of many life-altering experiences.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your involvement in or views on arts in medicine?
The art of healing is also a science. I highly encourage my peers and colleagues to explore their own creative path to better their overall health and share their journey so the rest of us may also learn.
Dr. Padam is a Palliative and Lifestyle Medicine sub-specialist in San Mateo, CA. She believes that the South Asian narratives surrounding the sanctity of life and human mortality are concepts that need to be further approached and heard. Exploring people's beliefs of human mortality and care goals can help facilitate culturally conscious care delivery. She relishes the tenderness of the physician-patient relationship and believes that no matter the stage in life it is never too late to improve one's quality of life or to forge meaningful connections with one another.