The Old Folks

Earlier this morning, when I was having my cuppa tea in a ‘kopitiam’, I saw an old woman on a wheelchair. She look so small, frail and ill, and with her, was a nurse who was assisting her in maneuvering her wheelchair. As I looked closely at her uniform, I notice that the nurse is from the nearby old folks home. I watched the pair occupy the table in front of me with great interest. At first, I thought the nurse is her daughter who is accompanying her for breakfast, but I was dead wrong as after a few minutes they occupied the table, an important looking young man appeared with a woman whom I assume is his wife and his toddler. After eavesdropping for a few minutes, I can safely conclude that the man is the old lady’s son.

Apparently, the young man has sent his old mother to the old folk to be taken care of because he and his wife are too busy with their career to take care of his ill mother. Something tugged at my heart at the whole scene as I watched the man’s wife fuss over their toddler and try to feed the toddler some food. Tears started to form in my eyes for some reason.

The man and his wife spent a few minutes with the nurse and his mother before rushing off somewhere and left for the nurse to take care of his mother. I recalled that I also overheard that he will only manage to visit his mother two weeks later because he’s extremely busy and could not put ‘visiting’ his mother into his schedule. The man had conveniently ignored his mother’s request to bring her home as she gets lonely at the old folks home. She look at him and his little family longingly as they left.

Now, without meaning to boast or anything, yours truly has always been a good debater. I  have a good command on my tongue and every time I’m involved in an argument, my tongue rarely fail me to win the argument. And when I was still in high school, I used to represent my state in public speaking as well as inter-school and inter-state debate competition. Being a competitive person, I usually do my best to win whatever debate topic that’s given to my team.

But, I’ve lost once in a debate that I could not bring myself to fight for though my school’s name is at stake. My team and I were overwhelmed with emotions during that particular debate competition. I still can remember it clearly. My team and I lost in a debate where the topic is something I rather not discuss. We were suppose to propose, support and defend the sending of our old folks to the old folk’s home to be taken care of when they’re old or gravely ill while our opponents are supposed to go against our proposition to send our old folks to the old folks home when they’re old. It’s old folks home, mind you, not those luxurious retirement homes where the old folks lives like honeymooners and live their life to the fullest. We’re talking about old folks homes where the old folks are treated like they are walking corpse.

Our opponent won easily, because none of my team members, including me were flared up to fight for the particular topic, as we actually unanimously agreed that sending off the old folks when they’re old and incapable is such an unfilial thing to do, and try as we might to win the debate, we could not deliver convincingly that the advantage of sending the old folks is more than the disadvantages due to our personal beliefs and Malaysian culture where filial piety is highly valued by all races and religion. Our opponent won easily in that particular debate competition. I have always felt that it’s not a fair fight, as the topic does not give the proposer side an advantage at all given the society’s perception on the subject.

Now, back to the present. If you ask me to argue and defend the sending of the old folks to the old folks’ home, I still could not do so, and I definitely would not do so as I really feel that sending them to old folks home against their will is something inhuman, regardless of the facilities and excellent medical officers to take care of them.

Our parents took care of us when we’re still young and dote on us when we were growing up. We were hard to deal with. We were naughty and definitely gives them hard time in the process of our growing up, so, why can’t we do the same for our old folks when they are old and needs our love, care and attention? When I recall seeing the man’s wife who was fussing over her toddler,  a question came to my mind, which is why is it so easy for a mother to take care of her baby, but it’s so hard for a son or daughter to take care of their mother or father who used to tend to them with undivided attention?

When we grow up and have our own life, our own family, what actually gives us the rights to neglect our old folks and let them lead a lonely life when they are old and incapable when we can actually care for them if some efforts are made? After all, they did held our hands and walk with us during our youth, so why can’t we do the same for them when they are old? We were incapable too, but they did not send us off to some orphanage to be taken care of.

Our parents took care of us. They brought us up with tears, sweat and blood, and it only right for us to return their favour by at least caring for them and neglecting them. We’re living in an era where we’re often involved in rat race. We’re always too busy for almost everything. We put career and material needs before our family.

We lost our sense of compassion and filial piety in the process of chasing and hunting down the bounty and glory that the world has to offer. For some, when their parents are sick, they take the easy way out and send their parents to old folks homes to be ‘taken care of’ even though when their parents are reluctant to do so.

I may be labeled for being conservative and have orthodox thinking for not supporting people to send their parents to old folks homes without their absolute approval. But I seriously think that our parents is our responsibility too. We should give them a decent amount of attention when they are old and weak. They need us to care for them the same way our children needs us to care for them.

So, dear readers, I urge you not to neglect your old folks when they are old and incapable. You should at least make an effort to take care of them when they are old and needs your attention. It’s a hard thing to do, but at least make an effort, not simply take the easy way out by ‘buying’ someone to take care of them for you.

Cleffairy: We will grow old too. Treat your parents well when they are old and frail, and God willing, your children will do the same for you. This is just about the cycle of life. I know for sure that I do not want to be dump in an old folks home and die a lonely life when I am old by my children. Do you, want such thing,dear readers?


  1. ZARA 札拉 [사랑해~] says:

    I’m really sympathy with this grandma. *refer to your post*
    Yeah, I’m always pray that I won’t be like that because both of my parent showed their loves towards their parents. I mean, totally love.
    How my dad served for his parent until both of my grandparent passed away.
    He never failed to visit them every week, no matter how busy and tired he was.
    I do hope that I won’t be like this kind of person. *derhaka I guess*

    Good day dear!

  2. ZARA 札拉 [사랑해~] says:

    I’m really sympathy with this grandma. *refer to your post*
    Yeah, I’m always pray that I won’t be like that because both of my parent showed their loves towards their parents. I mean, totally love.
    How my dad served for his parent until both of my grandparent passed away.
    He never failed to visit them every week, no matter how busy and tired he was.
    I do hope that I won’t be like this kind of person. *derhaka I guess*

    Good day dear!

  3. kikey says:

    nowadays many people like that, they think that old ppl is a burden.. our kids is watching us, what did we do to our parents, in future, they will learn from us…

  4. kilmytatiana says:

    It’s easier to be a child than a parent. Maybe that’s why they tend to neglect things that they’ve obtain without going thru thick and thin?

    Old people are almost similar to a child, except they’ve grown up. Most people can ‘forgive’ the hassle taking care of a child because they’re young, while not for old folks. They thought it’s a burden, and not worth the trouble.

    I’m glad my parents didn’t do that kind of thing. At least I’m now taught that it’s wrong to neglect my parents like that when they’re old.

  5. arc says:

    it’s just cruel and humanely wrong to forsake our parents.
    Most people will only realize the value o their parents after they are gone, which is too late.
    Everyday I keep telling to myself that I wouldnt wannabe an ungrateful son, I will love my parents forever.

    We wont exist without them after all,~~

  6. calvin says:

    clef, you post made me cry….see lar you.. *sniff* im very sensitive one you know.

    anyways, the thought of me sending my mum to the old folks home never occurred. my sis and i made a pact years ago to never ever mention old folks home to my mom. i cannot imagine the look of the old lady or for a matter of fact, my mom. if i was in her position, id die crying. id rather not see my children and id prefer to be left alone. to me, being successful does not only imply on one’s career, but as a family man able to know and do what should be done for your family and your aging parents. a definite no-no for me……

  7. eugene says:

    I am a father,i am a husband but i will never forget that i am a son too.Most often than not, we are too caught up to feed our own family,thus we forget that our parents need to be fed too,love , cares,calls,hugs,hellos,how are doing(s).

    I wrote one post about my mom too “old lady with her five children”, i always tell myself,there is this thing called karma,you will one day be given the same treatment the way you treated your old folks.

    so when we look at our children,we must look back at our parents too.

    love you for your honesty and your hearts towards the olds, god bless you, and one day your children will shower you will great love and joy .

  8. eugene says:

    just called my mom,taking her out for dinner tonite,you see i am guilty of needing to be reminded to do such a thing for my mom,dont worry i will always love her,.

  9. cleffairy says:

    Zara, actually I was speechless when I saw the old lady. Very kesian, and I really cannot imagine how it’s like to be placed in her position. I would feel lonely, useless and heartbroken if my children treat me like that when I grow old. I know people nowadays have no time to take care of their parents, but at least we can make effort to accompany them, right? Not simply put them in old folks home and let them die there alone. It’s nice to know that your father was a filial son, God bless him.

    Keith, thank you for visiting. 😀 I’m no angel, but I pray that I wun resort to being an unfilial child when my times comes to take care of my parents.

    Kikey, yalorr… we better dun treat our parents bad. Our children will watch and learn, and do the same to us.

    Kilmy, maybe…maybe that is the reason why. You’re right,old people are like children too… only they are bigger. LOL. They need our attention and love too. It’s good to know your parents did not neglect your grandparents. My mother was not raised by my grandmother, so their relationship is not so good. However, she treat my late grandmother, her mother in law like she would treat her own mother. She and my father took care of her on her deathbed til she passed away.

    Arc, exactly my sentiment. We should love them and appreciate them while they are still around. When they’re gone, missing them would be too late. 🙁

    Calvin, aiya, dun cry la bro *pats head* LOL….actually, to be honest, i also never thought of sending my old folks to the old folks home when they are old. LOL…once my dad brought it up, and told me and my sis to just send him and mom off to old folks home when they are old, so that they would not be a burden in our lives when we have a family of our own. I scolded my dad like mad back then. LOL… I called him crazy for even thinking that way. I told him, if my husband could not accept my parents when they are old,then he is not qualified to be my husband or the father to my children at all. However, I do have thoughts of sponsoring them to travel the world when they retired, let my parents travel and live life to the fullest after retire(in my dreams la, my dad still buys me ice cream and cakes, dam, treat me like a lil girl!LOL)

    Eugene, yes, I’ve read your story about your mother. But I dun think I commented on it. I’m not sure what to say, because your mother really did sacrifice a lot for you and your siblings.I feel that her deeds were beyond repaying. 😀 I always remind myself to respect the old and love the young, so that next time when I’m old, my children will treat me with love and care too. It’s good to know that you called your mom today. I’m so glad to hear that. 😀 Have fun with your mom. 😀 I called my mom often too… ahahaha….and I suspect that she’s quite annoyed with it, cuz each time I called her, this is what I will ask her “Mom, what did you cook today?”. Stupid question, really, because she’s hundreds of miles away from met, and even if I know what she cooked that day, i will not be able to eat it. 😛 My mom is my gossip kaki…can talk nonstop with me. LMAO.

    Pete…aiyo, finally Calvin got ppl to accompany him cry! Ahahahaha….hmm… increase retirement plan is a good plan. next time when retire, can shake leg on a cruise ship. LOL.(must run far far when retire, in case our kids hunt us down to babysit and change our grandkid’s diapers full of poop… we had enough when raising our children ma,their turn to have all the fun. LOL.)

  10. fergie says:

    You have a good heart Cleff. To be realistic, these days our children have to earn a living to maintain a family, housing n car loans n a certain life style. Folks lived a simpler life in the old days n cost of living was much lower. *sigh* It is important old folks have some cash to their name n a roof over their heads n not depend on children. the days of filial piety are gone, esp. among the Chinese .. I can see Malays n Indians are more filial n family orientated. Dun mean to sound racist .. I respect these traits in them 🙂 Some of u may not agree with me .. just my observation 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  11. fergie says:

    Afterthought .. our children never asked to be born. We gave birth to them so we have a duty to them n must not expect anything in return. I agree with “eugene” .. their is karma .. cause n effect .. I have seen this with my own eyes .. sometimes the effect comes tens of years later but we will always reap what we sow. OMG this is soooooo depressing LOL

  12. amoker says:

    Crap, i nearly cried with this posting but good thing i remember that I am a tough man. haha

    Yeah, I have made the same decision on my parents, I had similar outlook when visiting old folks home. no matter how ‘luxurius’ the old folks home are, they are never the same as in a family.

    Thanks for sharing. should send the kids to old folks home to learn. hehe

  13. Dreamkid says:

    I believe if the children are raised properly by their parents, the children will take care of them.

    I don’t know whether it’s right but that’s what I think.

  14. cleffairy says:

    Aunt Iris, you are a senior citizen, so I guess you know better about this. 😀
    I guess the world became too materialistic that it forces the younger generation to give their old folks less attention. I’ve been raised by a family that’s very family oriented, where my parents thought me to put family as a priority, and the rest seconds. So, I dun think I’ll be able to get used to the idea of sending our old folks to spend the rest of their life in old folks homes. In the place I live, there’s a nursing/old folks homes. Most of the occupants of the old folks homes look very small and frail, and sick. I feel sad. I felt like their kids just dump them there so that they can wait for death to claim them. Each time I pass by there, I feel like my heart has been gut out. 🙁 You see, if your old folks still have a living partner(spouse), it is quite all right to let them live on their own, as they still have companion, but if not, I think it’s rather lonely. Sad, you know? I always felt that it’s children’s responsibility to take care of the elders when they are sick and incapable. God forbids my kids to do such things to me. I think if my kids are like that, then I rather not live long. 🙁

    Amoker… aiyo, so many ppl wanna cry, my place here flood liao. LOL. I think, like small children, old people’s wants are just the same, which is to be close with their family. It’s really comforting to know that a lot of Over A Cuppa Tea’s reader share the same sentiments with me on this matter. this world still got hope la, after all.

    Dreamkid I’m not sure if I can agree with that, because sometimes, when children grow up and have their own family, certain things gets in the way. Like, way of life, spouse, etc, hence some made such decision. Parents can give their best shot at raising their kids, but when the kids grow up, there’s no guarantee that they will not take their parents for granted. 🙁

  15. riverrasquale says:

    Hi Clef, I dreamt the other day – of holding my mom for dear life while the tide from the tsunami swirled around us…my mom made me who I am now, with my late dad’s powerful genes that influenced my approach to life and vocation. But my mom was the one that made me able to fight all odds. My mom had vision, for the whole family. Now my mom is still independent but getting forgetful bit by bit, and I must do this task and finish this last task for my mom, so that I could spend more time with her. I will take care of my mom when she is frail. God, please give my mom strength to be with me longer and see her grandchildren and kids flourish in life.

  16. cleffairy says:

    Dreamkid… yeah, sometimes the spouse do get in the way, but in worst case scenario, it’s the children themselves who take things for granted. Sad,right?

    Riverra, God bless your mother, Riverra… 😀 She must have been a very inspiring woman all this while.

  17. heihz says:

    i will take some of your point for in presentation in class…
    i hope it will run smoothly..
    ur essay/ articles relly touches mi~

    i hope~ everyone will follow what u said, care for their parent..
    caring also a medical cure for ill’s old folk^^

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