Rachel Thaysil Mathew Eappen
May 8, 1924-Jan 27,2014
2014 Christian, Physician, wife , mother, grandmother, aunt
My Mother was the youngest of 12 children. My mother tells the story that her mother missed her oldest sister's wedding, because she was in labour! She was born in a very small town, Karthiapaly Kerala India. She is descended from an ancient Syrian Christian family. Her Mother's family is supposed to have been one of the original 7 Brahmin families converted to Christianity in 52 AD by Our Lord and Saviour's
Rachel was raised mostly by her older sisters ,and by all accounts was fairly spoiled, inspite of the financial problems of her family. She studied medicine in Madras at Vellore Christian Medical school and graduated in 1950. She often worked as a doctor for the very poor. She tells stories of seeing 800 patients in one day!
I don't think she wanted to get married, but her family had other ideas. At age 36 one of her uncles told her she should get married and promptly found her a husband. She only met my dad Joy Eappen once , before marrying him. My dad was studying to get his PhD in Montreal at McGill University. He was also descended of an ancient Syrian Christian family. Soon after the marriage she became pregnant with me. My dad returned to his studies in Montreal . My Mom had me 9 months after my dad left. I was quite ill with a heart condition.She and her older sister looked after me at my mothers ancestral home. My Mother went back to work as a doctor when I was about 6 months old . We lived in Karthiapaly until my dad saved enough money to fly us to Canada.
My mother and I arrived in Montreal aug 1963. Within a few months my mother was pregnant with my younger brother Mohan. My mom went from being a working woman with servants and an older sister looking after her to being pretty isolated in an appartment in Canada. She had to start cooking and cleaning for the first time in her life. She had to live with a husband that she hardly knew. My dad insisted that my mother cook like his mother , who had died before the marriage. We were among the only people of Indian origin in Montreal in those days. My mother became quite depressed early in her second pregnancy and was admitted to the Allen Memorial when she stopped talking. The psychiatrists let her out when she told them she was a physician and was just overwhelmed.
My mom decided to interrupt her career, to raise my brother and I. She taught me how to read, write and do arithmetic before I was 5 years old.
She volunteered at the library of our school. She became an integral part of our Church. Her meat puffs that she made for the church bazaar were legendary.
When I reached 16 my mother went back to work as a doctor and passed the licensing exam. She was in Quebec so she learned French in her late 40s . She passed the written test right away but had to take the oral exam 5 times before she passed it. She then went back to work as a GP until she was 70.
The years marched on. I also went to McGill and became an endocrinologist. My mom enjoyed discussing medical issues with me, but it was she that the family turned to for medical advice. She got to travel to visit friends and family in the US, UK and of course India. Her greatest trip was to the Holy Land. The pictures of the trip show that Mom was in bliss. To see the places where Jesus lived made her very happy.
My brother got married and adopted 2 children Mathew and Rebecca. They were a joy for my Mom
My dad passed away in 2001 after a long illness. Mom became very withdrawn and quite ill herself . She wouldn't eat or drink or get out of bed. We hired a young woman from the Philipines named Ailis. For the next 12 years Ailis and then other caretakers helped restore my Mom to health and became the daughters she never had.
I took Mom to India one last time in 2010. She was 86. At that point she was the only one of her siblings still alive. Her many nieces and Nephews and their kids and even grand Kids were very happy to see her.
After that trip she started deteriorating. She started asking me why God didn't take her. she outlived several much younger friends. Her memory started going..
In the last year she had a very hard time. She had a stroke and spent months in rehab. She was finally well enough to go home. She got up one night and fell and broke her hip. After the surgery, she was very listless. She stopped eating and drinking. She would eat the odd cherry and a bit of coffee. she told us she didn't want an intravenous or a feeding tube or any heroic measures. Without eating or drinking she faded away. She passed away peacefully with no pain.
My mother was loving, kind, very intelligent and talented. My brother and I owe her so much. She lived a long and happy life, but I was still not ready for her to go.