father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land
which the Lord, your God, is giving you." Exodus 20:12
And one day, after she knocked over a glass of milk, they told each other that
enough is enough.
They set up a small table for her in the corner next to the broom closet and
made the old woman eat her meals there.
She sat all alone, looking with tear-filled eyes across the room at the
others. Sometimes they spoke to her while they ate, but usually it was to
scold her for dropping a bowl or a fork.
One evening just before dinner, the little girl was busy playing on the
floor with her building blocks, and her father asked her what she was
making. "I'm building a little table for you and mother," she said with a grin,
can eat by yourselves in the corner someday when I get big!"
Her parents sat staring at her for sometime and then suddenly both began to
cry. That night they led the old woman back to her place at the big table.
From then on, she ate with the rest of the family, and her son and his wife
never seemed to mind a bit when she spilled something every now and then.
story does not end here. It just begins. Let us think about the cycle of life: birth,
adulthood, old age, sickness and death, inevitably come to us all.
Until we realize that old people are suffering and scared... Until the
thought of our own old age catches up with us, we may not have any idea what
old people are going through that they do not actually wish to go through.
Let us try understanding them and occasionally, splashing them with joy and
kindness to break their suffering, loneliness and numerous anxieties. After
all, how many short months or days do they have left in this world to be
with us? While we are still blessed with their presence, let us take care
of them and love them as much as they have loved us.
One remarkable cultural trait that is ingrained in many of us, wherever we may be, is
our strong sense of family. Unlike in a typical family, it is not unusual for
our children in their late 20's
to be living with parents, and for grandparents to be happily spending the
twilight of their lives with their children, instead in an old folks'
This value is second nature to many
of us. It is something that our children and grandchildren
should continue to emulate and preserve. From crib to death, we are family.
We do not subscribe to some cultures whereby on reaching the age of 18,
kids are literally thrown out of the house to fend for themselves.
Conversely and consequently, when these kids reach maturity and
have their own families, they literally throw their parents out into nursing
homes where they are left to die. For many of us, this is unthinkable.
Let us teach our children by example, these socially redeeming values.