The View from the Mountains: Now is my time

We were told a new couple was moving in, which always excites us. We always enjoy getting to know new residents, however, I could feel Surinder and M.J. had much to talk about.

They are originally from India and she continued to wear her delicate, beautiful, hand-sewn dress. She wears her gray hair in a very long braid down her back. Needless to say, I was fascinated by them and decided to spend time getting to know who they are and what makes them special. 

I told Surinder ahead of time I’d like to interview them but when the day came, only she came to talk. I often interview interesting people and have a list of questions I ask to get a good life story.

However, my questions didn’t seem to fit who she was at all.

For instance, when I asked her as a child what did she want to be when she grew up. She smiled but had no answer. But later on in our conversation, I began to realize why there was no answer to my question or to any of the other questions I asked. It didn’t matter.

The rest was easy. She told me in 1935 when she was born in India, a young girl was never asked what she wanted for her life. By the time she was 14, she was to have picked out a family to marry into, one with a suitable male to marry when she turned 17.

Surinder married M.J. at 17 and moved into his home.

Until then, she helped her mother with all of the household chores and the care of her two younger siblings. She was also her mother’s closest friend.

Nobody even asked her what she liked, what her passion was, or who was the most important person in her life. It simply didn’t matter.

Her place was to help in the household until she moved to M.J.’s family and did the same there.

She learned early on the most important people in her life were her father and her mother. She learned all she knew from them until she moved to M.J.’s family. It was there she met and got close to her father-in-law. He knew the value of an education and, consequently, paid for Surinder to go to school and college. In fact, he saw to it our own new resident could continue her studies, rendering her master’s degrees in English and psychology.

But during the 1940s there was fighting and violence in India. M.J. and Surinder had a family by then and they did not want to raise their children there. So, 40 years ago, they moved to America.

They bought a house and small business and took care of their children. Even though life was very different for her in the U.S., all the years lived in India had molded them. 

Surinder had followed her mother’s example and realized in her soul she too was a caregiver. It was the purpose of her life.

She found she did have passions for doing certain things like painting. She felt calm and centered when she expressed her feelings through painting.

By the way, since becoming a resident here she has done beautiful art work for all the rest of us to enjoy.

She truly enjoys reading. This is because of her constant quest for knowledge and learning new things. She never had the time to do this before.

Then she told me she has poetry “in her” and would like to write now that she has time for herself. This opened her up a bit more as we talked. She said she felt all of these things before but never in her life did she have time to grow within.

“Now is my time,” she shared emphatically.

Besides her natural desire to take care of others her most brilliant gift, to me, is her exquisite seamstress talent. I can’t take my eyes off her delicate stitches and creative designs. 

You know, she now talks about wanting to learn everything from us. Well, I believe, we can learn from getting to know Surinder and her husband.

She seems happiest when caring for others, whether it be helping someone at the dining table or passing out the exercise straps in exercise class.

When I look into her sweet face I see warmth and love for the other residents. When something needs hemming or sewed, she’s anxious to do it.

I believe there is much more to tell you about our new resident, and I wish you could sit and talk with her about her life in India and America. We are blessed to have them with us.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.