Personally, 1989 was a bad year. Two of my grandparents had recently died and the other two were dying – Poppa (Dad's Dad) was in hospital and Nana (Mum's Mum) was in her home being nursed by my Mum, in a coastal town two hours away.
Hospital reforms were being made at a political level with cuts being made to services and staff, and things were uncertain at the patient level. My father, under emotional stress due to our circumstances, had a car accident where he wrote off the family car, crushed one hand and fractured his skull. Because he was not technically considered to be fully unconscious upon reaching hospital in the ambulance, he was not admitted as a patient (under the newly forming laws) and was sent home to me instead. At the same time, the medical insurance company paying Poppa's fees for his private hospital room where he was dying of cancer were not sure of their grounds and stopped paying his fees (albeit only for a week) so he was sent home to me also.
I was doing a full-time Masters degree at University and holding down a part time job at the same time, to make ends meet. Every couple of hours I would have to drive home to get a meal or snack ready for the invalids, and bathe Dad's wounds – Poppa fractured a rib, falling out of bed, so he was forbidden to help – and then dash back to University, in between experiments, working late into the night to get everything done. On top of everything, the family cat – sensitive to the environment – kept throwing up onto the carpet.
One day as I was turning into our street on one of my mercy dashes home, the muffler of my jalopy fell off and started dragging under the car. This was almost a final straw. I parked in our driveway, fighting tears and a sense of 'not coping', then went inside to prepare morning tea for the invalids. When I got to Poppa's room with a cup of tea, he wasn't there! Feeling doom pending, I went to look for his body but he wasn't in the house. There was a small noise outside and, upon investigation, I found two thin little pyjama'd legs with slippers sticking out from under my car. Poppa had heard the car coming from down the street (with no muffler!) and had slipped out to the garage and got pliers and wire to fix my car. At that point I did cry when I found him, but with tears of love – at this stage as his life was slowly ebbing away from him, his first thought was to try to help me, putting his family before himself – as he always had throughout his life.
Do the right thing. Be the right person. Lo, God is coming To garland Your self-giving life. - Sri Chinmoy.