When I hear the words ‘mind over matter’ my thoughts instantly turn to my role model, my sister Jaspal. At the age of 57 Jaspal sadly passed away after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease. However throughout her illness she remained dignified and positive at a time of great adversity.
Jaspal was the most kind-hearted, beautiful, vivacious socialite you could have ever have known. She was often referred to as a Bumble Bee buzzing from flower to flower, carrying her flamboyant personality and laughter. On the surface, Jaspal was no different from many people. She had a husband and three children, lived in a beautiful home, enjoyed cooking, entertaining, music, dancing and loved to tinker with her home décor. She seemed to have the perfect life.
At the age of 45 Jaspal’s life was shattered when she was diagnosed with the cruel terminal illness ‘Motor Neurone Disease’. This disease affects the central nervous system and slowly but surely disables motor skills until the sufferer can no longer move. Worse still, the brain is still as active as normal but without the ability to communicate leaves them trapped in their body and isolated from the world. Knowing that this is going to happen and that there is no cure is too much for most people and they have a three year life expectancy from diagnosis.
Jaspal was different. After many tears and anger she decided she was not going to let this disease change her personality and remained positive throughout. She would always greet you with a huge smile even though she was suffering with pain inside. During her illness she was determined to make her life as normal as possible. Instead of hiding away she maintained her social life. Jaspal always had a very positive aura around her. She always gave her time and sound advice to each and every person who came to her with their problems, even though she was the one in the wheelchair silently suffering. She would always say ‘believe in yourself and you can do whatever you want in life’.
She taught all of us how powerful your mind really is. Undoubtedly it’s difficult to keep a positive attitude when you’re facing a life-threatening disease, but, somehow Jaspal did just that. She kept her mind constantly active by doing the Rubik’s Cube, twitching her nose to tell us which direction to move the cubes, and blinking once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’. We would have a blast laughing when we would get instructions muddled up! She was extremely generous and considerate of others. When friends and relatives came to visit her she made sure they would always eat something even though she was unable to eat. An example of her altruism was her generous, anonymous, donations to appeals on TV about children suffering from any form of illness.
Jaspal’s kind gestures and positive approach to life pretty much sums up the way she lived her life. There are other aspects to Jaspal’s heroism and too many to describe here. She reached out to people and touched them with her smile, her heart, and her contagious laugh. She never used her illness as an excuse for not being able to do anything, she did it all……..
As the disease progressed Jaspal refused to be beaten in any aspect of life and invented new ways to communicate with her family and friends using her mobile phone. On her last night, with her form of communication she was able to send a message to her husband and three children saying ‘goodbye’.
After confounding doctors and suffering from the disease for over 10 years, Jaspal sadly passed away in May 2012 but for us she will always live on.