Earlier this morning, when I was having my cuppa tea in a ‘kopitiam’, I saw an old woman on a wheelchair. She look so small, frail and ill, and with her, was a nurse who was assisting her in maneuvering her wheelchair. As I looked closely at her uniform, I notice that the nurse is from the nearby old folks home. I watched the pair occupy the table in front of me with great interest. At first, I thought the nurse is her daughter who is accompanying her for breakfast, but I was dead wrong as after a few minutes they occupied the table, an important looking young man appeared with a woman whom I assume is his wife and his toddler. After eavesdropping for a few minutes, I can safely conclude that the man is the old lady’s son.
Apparently, the young man has sent his old mother to the old folk to be taken care of because he and his wife are too busy with their career to take care of his ill mother. Something tugged at my heart at the whole scene as I watched the man’s wife fuss over their toddler and try to feed the toddler some food. Tears started to form in my eyes for some reason.
The man and his wife spent a few minutes with the nurse and his mother before rushing off somewhere and left for the nurse to take care of his mother. I recalled that I also overheard that he will only manage to visit his mother two weeks later because he’s extremely busy and could not put ‘visiting’ his mother into his schedule. The man had conveniently ignored his mother’s request to bring her home as she gets lonely at the old folks home. She look at him and his little family longingly as they left.
Now, without meaning to boast or anything, yours truly has always been a good debater. I have a good command on my tongue and every time I’m involved in an argument, my tongue rarely fail me to win the argument. And when I was still in high school, I used to represent my state in public speaking as well as inter-school and inter-state debate competition. Being a competitive person, I usually do my best to win whatever debate topic that’s given to my team.
But, I’ve lost once in a debate that I could not bring myself to fight for though my school’s name is at stake. My team and I were overwhelmed with emotions during that particular debate competition. I still can remember it clearly. My team and I lost in a debate where the topic is something I rather not discuss. We were suppose to propose, support and defend the sending of our old folks to the old folk’s home to be taken care of when they’re old or gravely ill while our opponents are supposed to go against our proposition to send our old folks to the old folks home when they’re old. It’s old folks home, mind you, not those luxurious retirement homes where the old folks lives like honeymooners and live their life to the fullest. We’re talking about old folks homes where the old folks are treated like they are walking corpse.
Our opponent won easily, because none of my team members, including me were flared up to fight for the particular topic, as we actually unanimously agreed that sending off the old folks when they’re old and incapable is such an unfilial thing to do, and try as we might to win the debate, we could not deliver convincingly that the advantage of sending the old folks is more than the disadvantages due to our personal beliefs and Malaysian culture where filial piety is highly valued by all races and religion. Our opponent won easily in that particular debate competition. I have always felt that it’s not a fair fight, as the topic does not give the proposer side an advantage at all given the society’s perception on the subject.
Now, back to the present. If you ask me to argue and defend the sending of the old folks to the old folks’ home, I still could not do so, and I definitely would not do so as I really feel that sending them to old folks home against their will is something inhuman, regardless of the facilities and excellent medical officers to take care of them.
Our parents took care of us when we’re still young and dote on us when we were growing up. We were hard to deal with. We were naughty and definitely gives them hard time in the process of our growing up, so, why can’t we do the same for our old folks when they are old and needs our love, care and attention? When I recall seeing the man’s wife who was fussing over her toddler, a question came to my mind, which is why is it so easy for a mother to take care of her baby, but it’s so hard for a son or daughter to take care of their mother or father who used to tend to them with undivided attention?
When we grow up and have our own life, our own family, what actually gives us the rights to neglect our old folks and let them lead a lonely life when they are old and incapable when we can actually care for them if some efforts are made? After all, they did held our hands and walk with us during our youth, so why can’t we do the same for them when they are old? We were incapable too, but they did not send us off to some orphanage to be taken care of.
Our parents took care of us. They brought us up with tears, sweat and blood, and it only right for us to return their favour by at least caring for them and neglecting them. We’re living in an era where we’re often involved in rat race. We’re always too busy for almost everything. We put career and material needs before our family.
We lost our sense of compassion and filial piety in the process of chasing and hunting down the bounty and glory that the world has to offer. For some, when their parents are sick, they take the easy way out and send their parents to old folks homes to be ‘taken care of’ even though when their parents are reluctant to do so.
I may be labeled for being conservative and have orthodox thinking for not supporting people to send their parents to old folks homes without their absolute approval. But I seriously think that our parents is our responsibility too. We should give them a decent amount of attention when they are old and weak. They need us to care for them the same way our children needs us to care for them.
So, dear readers, I urge you not to neglect your old folks when they are old and incapable. You should at least make an effort to take care of them when they are old and needs your attention. It’s a hard thing to do, but at least make an effort, not simply take the easy way out by ‘buying’ someone to take care of them for you.
Cleffairy: We will grow old too. Treat your parents well when they are old and frail, and God willing, your children will do the same for you. This is just about the cycle of life. I know for sure that I do not want to be dump in an old folks home and die a lonely life when I am old by my children. Do you, want such thing,dear readers?