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Respecting Old Parents (part 12 of 12)


This blog is the last of a 12-part series on ‘Parenting is a Journey’. Ignatius Fernandez also blogs at http://thechildisfatheroftheman.blogspot.in/.

A potter’s little son was busy, at his father’s wheel, moulding a pot. His mother watched him with some pride and asked him for whom the pot was being made. He promptly disclosed his plan: When he grew up he would marry. He and his wife would stay in a regular house, but his mother would be shifted to a hut nearby. With the pot, he was now making, she could visit his wife, once a day and collect food. On hearing her son’s plan, she wept because that was exactly the way she was treating her husband’s mother, the boy’s grandmother.

“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be”. David Bly.

“I will throw my mother out on the streets, if you discharge her”. That was the daughter threatening the care-givers in the old age home, where the old lady was lodged. This reference appeared in The Straits Times, Singapore, of June 13, 2005. More startling news appeared in the same paper of December 8, 2007. In Hyderabad (India), a rich family despatched their 75 year old mother, suffering from cancer, but still alive, to the crematorium. The staff at the crematorium noticed the body stir and informed the police.

Why do we, grown children, who have our own growing children, turn bitter, hostile and merciless in relating to our old parents? Why do we forget the years when our parents did not avoid broken glass? Instead, with bleeding feet they made more sacrifices. Don’t we realise that in time, wrinkled Age with her gnarled fingers will touch us? And that a time would come when we would be physically, and perhaps financially dependent on our children? Could we then expect hospitality and kindness from children, who saw us mistreat their grandparents?

Some of us exploit our old parents because they are feeble and defenceless. We take away what little money they have, deny them the right to make decisions, put them to tasks they loathe and plunge the cold steel of unkindness into their old hearts. They bleed in silence. When we toss them out of our lives, as people who are no more useful to us, they feel unwanted: ‘what am I but a withered branch and a useless trunk, fit only to be cast away?’ Some of us do things for our old parents just out of a sense of duty – when we serve them without loving them. And one sin becomes two when we defend our behaviour.

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