We visited a home for the aged last year and I recollect my thoughts through this blog and recall how this encounter widen my views and changed my perceptions, forever.
When I entered the home for the aged, I saw what future inevitably holds us all: that whatever energies age have given us and will give us in the future, it also takes away in the slow but effective process of ageing. What then is left? It is all the wisdom coming from decades of experience reaped from the use of this energy.
Their swollen eyes, feeble legs and loose skin may be slowly succumbing to the corruptive influence of age but their will to live affirms of this wisdom. As I listened to their stories of their everyday trivialities and lore, I realized that they were longing for some kind of affection; for someone to listen to them and give them the warmth of a loving son or daughter, something that I guessed that have been deprived of them by the tragedy of death or by ingratitude of people they have lived to raise.
It truly is a tragedy for a country with a strong sense of family bonding to have old people subjected to this kind of harshness in the twilight of their years; when they already are supposed to enjoy the fruits of their lifelong labor. In another light, I also saw the passion of the young people serving in the home for the aged, giving them a kind of comfort supposedly afforded to them by their own families.
Despite of the great tragedy that befalls the elders of Kanlungan ni Maria, I’ve met one of them whose despite the tragedy which killed her family, has taken up purpose and has since devoted herself to memorizing poems and songs, dancing although sitting and helping herself and the others in their daily routine. In devoting herself to these things, she have taken up purpose and she sums it all by saying that she performs actively because she wants to share her talents, something she says she did not do when she was younger.
She saw the extension of her life not as an extension of the suffering that results from old age, but as a gift from God and another day to share her talents to the world. I was surprised that despite her old age of 82, she was as active as her colleagues 20 years ago and in fact, she looked and acted as if she was she was 65.
This purpose has made kept her in peace for her eight years stay in the home for the aged. In the first years, she recalled, she almost broke down and lost the will to live because of the fights she had with her colleagues. She also recalled how they were throwing things at each other and how she got close to being expelled. Through it all she prayed to God for guidance and strength. And I think that God did answer her prayer and now she manages her anger and lives through every day with a purpose.
It really is an awakening moment to see elders, despite their dwindling strength and the tragedies that have befallen them, to take reason to live and fight the inevitable. Seeing them find purpose in the twilight of their years proved that the human spirit can defy the corruptive forces of age and time and again has proven that for all things man deemed impossible beforehand.
I also played games with them and with my classmates. There I saw their excitement in having new players to play the games they repeatedly played inside the home. I also saw one elders who, despite her age, still had the wits to outscore most of us. She actually new of words like ab the we never even knew of.
So why take care of the dying? That question grinds my mind while I stared blankly at them during the visit. Well, I guess it is the compassion of the caretakers and people who have helped the home for the aged through the years. I think, as the younger generation, we owe a lot to these elderly people. Not only did they make our existence biologically possible, but it is them who once bore the task of setting up our country and refining our socio-economic institutions to the form we see of them today.
It is the gratitude that society owes these people that continually powers the compassion in the hearts of those who have given their life, time and resource to pool in the effort to make the elder’s last days as comfortable as possible. In another light, I also see this effort as a values building effort. By setting up institutions like these and by showing to their sons and daughters that they care about the elderly, the generation of today inculcates to the youth the value of compassion so that when their time comes, the youth of today will be as compassionate.