This past Monday dad received a call from his uncle-his mom’s brother-who takes care of his grandmother (my great-grandmother), telling him she looked so frail and was afraid she might be transitioning to the other world sooner rather than later. Afraid his granma would die before he saw her, he took a day off so he could travel to the countryside to visit her. Coincidentally, mom was also taking her weekly off on Tuesday. She offered to accompany him.
Tuesday morning, the two woke up early, and went to see dad’s granma. While they were away, mom called, saying they had seen her and she looked frail but was okay. That was a huge relief because the thought that dad had taken a day off in the beginning of the week sought of gave the impression his grandmother was on her dying bed.
Last time I saw her was in October last year and even though she looked thinner than I’d previously seen her, she looked so beautiful. The entire time I was looking at her I felt like I was looking at an older version of my big sister, and then I would see my grams-dad’s mom- and my dad’s siblings. I saw family members from three generations in her. The resemblance was striking.
She is the matriarch of the family; the tree, from which four generations have sprouted. That is indeed a phenomenal blessing. I’m not too sure how old she is, but I imagine she is in her late nineties or early hundreds; about a century old. Looking at the fruits of her womb, directly/indirectly, I would say she is blessed.
From her, great people have been born; for instance, three of her children, who I know, are well-to-do and furthermore, dad and his siblings all have very lucrative careers. Anyone in her shoes would be proud of her descendants.
However, there’s one big problem with that. When mom and dad arrived at around nine, at night, they showed my sisters and I some of the pictures they took of our great-granma. She didn’t just look frail, she looked malnourished, visibly pallid and in one of the photos she seemed almost lifeless. It was too creepy I just requested them to delete it.
Mom said they took it so we could get the actual image of how she looks. Those images of her infuriated me. She seemed that neglected, yet all people do in my extended family is boast about all the wealth they have. Of what use is that wealth, if it can’t help such a woman, who is now too old to fend for herself? What’s the point of having children if they won’t take care of one when age renders them helpless and dependant?
The uncle who called dad is the same one who keeps asking for money, citing the old woman’s special needs; special diet and all. The woman I saw on those photos didn’t look like one who receives any special treatment from the people, who I feel have been scamming family members off. She just seemed neglected. My heart went out to her. Her caretakers look so healthy, well-fed, yet she on the other hand looks so underfed.
Old people can be difficult. My late grams wasn’t any different. She insisted on remaining in her home when mom suggested she come live with us so we could take care of her. Mom even tricked her into coming home but a month later she said she wasn’t used to the city life, so she begged to be taken back and as mom didn’t want to impose, she took her back. Next thing we knew, she was all scrawny; malnourished and all and before long she was dead.
Old people aren’t the easiest to deal with, but at the same time, I believe it’s the responsibility of the younger members of the family to take care of them. The best way to look at this situation would be to imagine oneself, old and confined to a wheelchair courtesy of old age, and alone because the people one birthed and raised are too absorbed in their own lives to help/care.
I don’t like nursing homes. Why take an old relative to a home? They spent their halcyon days, taking care of those same children who leave them in the care of total strangers? Isn’t it everyone’s dream to spend their sunset years with loved ones? Life is a cycle; our parents take care of us when we are young, and when age catches up with them, we take care of them.
Why neglect them when they can’t take care of themselves? They used up their better years feeding and clothing us? Would it be too much to ask that we, who are still young and able, return the favour to our loved ones? It’s the least we can do to show our gratitude for their priceless work.