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.

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