Monthly Archives: January 2017

Burning bridges – Part 2

When dad suggested he was going to bring his mom home, we all voiced our disapproval. For starters, she has never acknowledged us as her grandchildren. The last time she passed by for less than hour, in the company of her three other children, things got ugly when she started attacking mom, treating her like an outsider. She threatened to take her son away, from mom…

We couldn’t fathom living with her under the same room indefinitely.

If God-forbid she came down with a cold or something, especially now that her health is frail, we could be accused of poisoning her or something. So to be on the safe side, we’re all avoiding the responsibility of taking care of her. God knows we’d really want to, even if for humanity’s sake, but that would most likely be to our detriment.

Now would even be the worst time to bring her to live with us since we all leave in the morning and come back home in the evening and as we’re in a financially tight situation, we can’t afford to seek the services of a private nurse. That means she would never have anyone to take care of her and that could earn us her eternal wrath. I doubt anyone in their right mind would want that.

Ironically, when my maternal grandma was alive, we were the ones begging her to let us take care of her. We had a tight relationship with her and because she was naturally kind-hearted, we didn’t have to fake anything with her. Whatever problems we faced in her presence, we knew she wouldn’t judge us; she wouldn’t resent us. We went to her for guidance and she was only too eager to give it.

When mom and dad fought, she never took sides. She would admonish whoever of the two was at fault. That’s something dad’s mom has been incapable of for ages. Where her children are concerned, she effortlessly takes their side. And that explains the wanting relationship she has with her daughters-in-law. According to her, they have always been the enemies.

The one daughter-in-law who at least seemed to like her a bit is the one she encouraged her son to ditch because she favoured another woman over her. So now, nature has put her in a position where she needs help, and though four generations have sprouted from her, she has had trouble finding a safe haven where she can spend her sunset years.

She called too many shots when she was strong and able, without caring whose toes she stepped on. Now those same people whose feelings she bruised are the same ones whose helps she needs. Life really has a way of shuffling things around. Problem is, tolerance and trust don’t just bloom overnight. Worse still, where trust is absent, in its place there’s too much suspicion, which could be disastrous when it’s unrestrained, like in my family.

What I’ve learned from all these is that no man’s an island. Furthermore, even when someone feels invincible because they’re financially stable and are in good health, they shouldn’t take others for granted because no one knows how tomorrow will be. We might need to use the same bridges we burned to get to the other side of the river.

never-burn-bridges

In addition to that, sometimes it’s better for parents to let their children make their own choices, however wrong they feel those choices might be. It would be too bad if a parent and their child are separated later in life simply because the parent couldn’t respect their child’s decisions. That happens to most people, especially where there are new members being introduced into the family by virtue of marriage.

The truth of the matter is, once the child grows up and leaves the nest, their better half will in most cases have a say in the decisions they make. That therefore means that when a child chooses a partner, if they insist that’s who they want to share their life with, their parents should respect that. For everyone’s sake.

I don’t know if dad’s mom regrets her past choices, but I can almost bet she’s feeling their effect now and I find it a tremendously sad situation. From what I’ve seen in my family, that simple act of parents not meddling in their children’s relationships could save generations tonnes of rancour. It could also spare aging parents the misery of having to spend those final days in utter solitude because they burned all bridges and therefore have no one to turn to when they’re too old to take care of themselves.

All we have to keep reminding ourselves is that tomorrow might be a very different day from today and the people we seem to despise or take for granted are the same ones we’ll be running to for help. That’s just how life is. Sod’s law of some sought.

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Burning bridges – Part 1

burning-bridges

Life as we know it, is a curve. A baby is born, s/he matures and ages, then ultimately dies. At least that’s the normal curve, even though not everyone gets to go through all the stages. Now, as any keen person may have realised, person(s) on either side of the curve seem to be in the same state technically. The only notable difference would be the difference in age and the obvious physical characteristics accompanying each.

What I find interesting is that persons on either side of the curve appear to be in a similar stage. For instance, when a baby is young, they require assistance taking a bath, moving from place to place, they need to be fed…etc. and so does an old person. Interesting, ain’t it?

My paternal great grandmother passed on two years ago and albeit no one knew her exact age, she’s rumoured to have been over a century old. Now if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is; in my humble opinion at least.

I was lucky to see her a couple of months before she passed on and when I did, I had trouble reconciling the version of her seated in front of me, with the version of her I knew when I was a child. Unlike her relatively younger self, she couldn’t move on her own and therefore had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair. She seemed so fragile; and obviously because she had lost all her teeth, there was a variety of foods she couldn’t eat. Just like it is with infants.

The reason I find this human curve interesting is because, once a child is born, they rely on their parents/guardians to get through life; then the child matures, they become independent and at some point they get families of their own and as it is with life, they continue aging. Now the interesting part is that when they do, the independence they once enjoyed when they were lithe fades away with age so they start relying on their children to perform, even the most basic of tasks.

Another difference is that unlike babies, who can’t chose who takes care of them, elderly people have that discretion of choosing. This they determine by the relations they have; how they treat their children and those close to them during their younger years.

One thing I keep reminding myself as life goes on is that life is too short to learn everything, so a wise person will learn from other people’s experiences, without necessarily waiting to learn from their own. Sometimes, when we’re in our prime, we delude ourselves into thinking that we can survive without help from others. But as some of us may have learned first-hand, in this business of aging, life knows no status quo.

A few years ago, dad was just going on and on with his drunken rumblings. He said my sisters and I could go get married and that he didn’t need any of us. He had his money and would therefore never require our assistance. I shook my head, concerned that he was being too myopic; he could barely see what was right in front of his own two eyes.

At the time, his grandmother was already in that stage where she was too old to take care of herself. The rest of his family had trouble deciding who was going to take care of her as she had too many ‘special needs’. I only told mom to remind him later that sometimes there comes a time, when parents rely on their own children to feed and bathe them. As it is though, dad is as obstinate as they come. Most often than not, I feel he’s one of those people who wait to learn from their own experiences.

Currently as we speak, his own mother, whom I’ve mentioned (not in very good light) in some previous posts is now aging and needs someone to take care of her. Dad and his three siblings have had trouble lately, deciding who would take her in.

See thing is, in her halcyon days, she burned many bridges; just like most of us do when we feel our lives couldn’t be better so we don’t need others to get by. She was practically the one calling the shots in her children’s lives; who they should marry, how they should treat them… the ones from humble backgrounds like my mom were only acquainted with the callous side of her.

She got to decide if her children married well, and this was always on the basis of monetary wealth; good virtues didn’t matter to her. Where she felt they could do better, she incited them, hoping to break them apart. With my parents for instance, she tried and failed miserably so we’ve -in most cases- been treated like pariahs.

Now as it turns out, her only daughter, who never married (because she didn’t want her marrying a poor lad) is not in a state to help her (financially speaking); her sons on the other hand, didn’t marry the wives she wanted so they (she and her daughters-in-law) don’t get along too well and as nit-picking is seemingly one of her fortes, no one wants to be in a situation where they are blamed for ‘maltreating’ her.

This is because they never forged a healthy relationship that’s characterised by trust and tolerance when they should have, so they are naturally weary of each other. It therefore goes without saying that any unintentional slip-up on their (daughters-in-law) side, might be construed as a deliberate attempt at making her life miserable.