[ Pokhara, Nepal ]
Not to pile on with bad news, but I just needed to share this burden. Please bear with me.
When I went downstairs yesterday morning to update Pramod on Mike’s condition, I could tell instantly that something was amiss. For those who don’t recall, Pramod Shrestha is the man who trusted me enough to send me—three times—to share in the life of his family in Kot Village (Bhojpur, Nepal). I see him nearly every single day, multiple tiimes per day, and I had never seen him flustered until this very moment. As I approached, I could decipher enough of his rapid-fire Nepali to understand he was on the phone summoning a medical helicopter. I quickly learned he was dispatching it to Kot, to evacuate his mom—my Nepali mom—to a hospital in Kathmandu.
As we’ve pieced it together so far, Aamaa (“mother”)—Ganesh Kumari Shrestha—was standing upstairs on the narrow, bamboo-supported balcony outside her upstairs bedroom, hanging clothes to dry in the sun as I’d seen her do half a hundred times. Somehow—perhaps she slipped, perhaps her arthiritic knees or back failed her at an inopportune instant—she fell from her perch and landed hard, feet first, on the uneven, rock-strewn ground some eight or ten feet below. Members of the extended family were thankfully on hand, and a medical assistant from the health post was rushed to the scene and able to stabilize her. The doctors later told Pramod she suffered severe lacerations to her face and legs, multiple fractures in both legs, including one or both femurs (or perhaps hips, Pramod isn’t sure), and—most worrisome—one or more vertebrae in her lower back. She has been unable to move her legs since the fall, but remained conscious throughout the incident, subsequent treatment, and evacuation.
Her two eldest sons accompanied her in the helicopter (including my host, Punya), and Pramod followed by bus today to join them. As of late last night, she was settled into ICU and awaiting surgery as soon as her (low) blood pressure is stablilized.
All three of her sons have limited time available to stay away from their homes, so I’ve offered to travel to Kathmandu so someone is with her in the hospital there at all times. I’ll be taking the bus either tomorrow morning (a few hours from now) or the next day.
From the very first moment I met them, the entire Shrestha clan accepted me into their family and made me feel a part of it, and by extension a part of Nepal itself. Their selfless warmth and humor and openness and tolerance of my innumberable cultural foibles changed my life forever—and Aamaa, the Great Family Matriarch, was the one to preside above it all.
I wish her well with every fiber of my fumbling, stumbling, ineptly loving being. And please, each of you, do the same. The universe is so much more alive with this woman in it….