My most difficult decision – but a most pleasurable one!

Genre: Creative Non-Fiction

I was – and still am – at that crucial juncture, what most parents refer to as an “impressionable” age. In other words, “ immature” and not “wise enough” to take “major decisions”. And to think of it, I am a full-fledged graduate and a bona fide adult at the age of 23 !

 Just the age when one thinks, dreams and breathes only Rihanna, Ranbir Kapoor (sigh…), the latest smartphone model and which dress to buy from Amazon. After all, that’s what nearly all city-bred, 21st– century girls (like me, ahem) do, don’t they ?

 I was – and still am – all this but something changed a few months ago, when my mother, a home-maker-cum-social worker, asked me if I wished to accompany her to an old age home. “WHAT”, I literally shouted, “where all those toothless nonagenarians live, with one feet dangling in their graves, sitting around chewing the cud and dirtying bed sheets all day long ? As if I have nothing better to do…”

 I have always had a revulsion (mixed with a little bit of a pity) towards old beggars. Whenever they stretched out their crooked, maimed limbs for alms, I have always turned my face the other way, out of embarrassment and an acute feeling of discomfort. Most of them would wander off disappointed while others would continue to beseech me with imploring appeals, rattling their tin boxes.

 I was certainly not their Good Samaritan !

 “You have never known the love of a grandmother, that’s why you are saying all these

things,” my mother softly said. “You see, it’s grandmother’s birthday today, and what

better way to remember her than by spending a couple of hours with the old folks, holding their hands, listening to them and giving them fresh fruits. Had she been alive, your granny

would have liked you to do all this and be proud of you. And you are not doing anything particularly important right now, are you ?”

 Difficult decision, I thought, but on second thoughts, I said to myself, why not ?

 The red brick building, whose back door opened into the local church, housed nearly two dozen very senior citizens, and was located just half-a-kilometer from our home. My mother and I – laden with two baskets of fresh, seasonal fruits, which we bought along the way – walked down the hall into the individual rooms and introduced ourselves to the occupants.

 Few of the patients were mobile, most not being able to venture out of their beds or much further than a nearby chair. Many could not feed themselves or tend to their personal needs without atleast some support – a walking stick, a walker, a pair of strong arms. Others could not even express themselves well enough to make their wants and wishes known.

 “We must always take care of those who can’t care for themselves”, my mother said. Always spreading cheer, Mom was an angel-in-waiting to many of the patients, just what the doctor ordered or should have, and I was her tag-along. Peeping around from behind her, too shy or shamed to speak aloud, I was introduced even to the ones who couldn’t see beyond a few feet or remember my name after I left.

 Still, I enjoyed walking down the hall behind my mother and seeing the wrinkled faces light up as we entered each room. Some caressed my arm and blessed me; others insisted that I was their long-lost granddaughter and gave me a peck on the cheek. I even helped to feed a couple of ancient-looking women in and their heart-felt blessings gave me a most pleasurable feeling. I swear, my heart gave a couple of lurches…

 Rihanna seemed far, far away, and for the moment at least, Ranbir Kapoor could have his Katrina, for all I cared !

 An old age home is usually a home away from their real home for those old people who have no one to look after them or those who have been thrown out of their homes by their children. The place is of course like home where the inmates get all the facilities for a routine living, like food, clothing and shelter but the absence of the much-needed love, and care of loved ones is, of course, sadly missing; for, how can outsiders provide solace and for how long ?

However, in the West it may not be so heart rending for there, it is their original life style that two generations rarely stay under one roof. But in India where, for centuries, not only two but also even three or four generations have lived together, this new concept of nuclear families with the elders ousted, is just too heartbreaking to bear.

The story of the inmates living in such homes is pretty much the same — turmoil in the family, disgust against the old and, finally the removal of the elders from the family scene. It is the family atmosphere, and being among their flesh and blood that most of the old people miss at the old age homes. It is the breakup of the system of the joint family and the introduction of a nuclear family that has brought about this poignant situation in our society.

Besides this, since more and more women have started working outside, there is now no one to look after the routine needs of the elders at home. There is also a perceptible change in the attitudes of younger people towards their elders, who are considered as useless appendages in the family. No matter how well they are looked after in these homes, just a single visit to an old age home brings this stark and depressing reality to the fore.

From the sadly-neglected elderly, I learned that day that what we need most is one another. From Mom, I saw first-hand that one caring soul can make a world of a difference to the

health and happiness of others. I clearly felt God’s presence all around me. “Come again,” they said, “please do come again – it was a sheer pleasure to have you over”.

 Those couple of hours spent at the Old Age Home really transformed me from a careless, couldn’t-care-for-anything-but-oneself youngster to a grounded, mature adult who could see beyond one’s nose. Yes, I was definitely at an “impressionable” age only that these were golden impressions forever etched in my memory and which warmed the cockles of my heart.

 From a typical 23-year-young, I was transformed into a typical 23-year-old which not only gave me immense satisfaction but the glint of pride in my mother’s eyes was more than adequate compensation for all the scoldings that I had to endure for “frittering” away my time. Another takeaway was that each member of our family has signed a pledge to donate our organs after our demise – a small token of our compassion and thanksgiving.

 Since that “most difficult decision”, I now visit the Old Age Home whenever I have the time and inclination and on every such occasion I am rewarded ten times over. And, yes, I still listen and sway to the music of Rihanna but have moved on from my erstwhile heart-throb Ranbir Kapoor to more greener pastures closer to my heart…

(1200 Words)

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87 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful decision and impact its had on your life

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks.. 🙂
    It sure did, totally worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A lovely post and I’m glad you had that experience. When I was young, I never thought I’d grow old, not really. I couldn’t imagine myself as needing care, as wrinkled and forgetful. But if we are lucky, we will get old (since the alternative is death). Enjoy your youth and continue to grow you heart 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you so much for appreciating the post ❤ 🙂
    Well, can't agree enough that majority of us (including me) cringe to visualize how we'll look once we get old – but that ain't a closure, is it? Hoping to enjoy our aging with the same fervor and compassion that we hold in the present day 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually do enjoy aging. There’s a lot of freedom to pursue your passions and not worry about what other people think. Plus grandchildren are great fun. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure they are – as they say age is just a number, its a mere limitation we’ve put in our minds..
        Glad to hear you’re enjoying aging – if only we had more people sharing the same notion! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “I learned that day that what we need most is one another” is such a powerful lesson learned. When we are young we can’t imagine becoming elderly yet as we age we come to the understanding that we all enter this as world frail, helpless and needy beings and if we’re lucky enough to live a long life we leave the same way. It’s so heartbreaking to see elderly people being neglected and/or abused and how wonderful it is that people like you and your mom can take a little time out of your day to brighten another’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Truly agree with you Stephanae, its a smashing reality check to encounter such people – makes you realize how lucky you are to have a family that is so loving! There’s so much that you want to do for the elderly and needy, but you just don’t know how to put that in action. This is the least we can do, if visiting them for a short span of time brings a smile on their face and makes them happy then I’m exhilaratingly in for it. Thank you for your kind words and acknowledgement. Really appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. fitnessgrad says:

    Hello,
    Pleasure to meet you, I wanted to stop by your blog page and say thank you for stopping by my blog page and showing your support for one of my blog post and having a follow, I hope that my blog page will continue to be of interest to you in a positive way!

    Shay-lon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for doing the same.. wishing you the very best for your blog! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. what a well written and lovely experience you had there!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for appreciating, it was indeed a memorable experience, looking forward to more similar trials! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. rosemawrites says:

    indeed a good decision! tough call yet worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for reading through ! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rosemawrites says:

        you’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. A very touching article. I’m probably older than your mother, and my mother lives in the US in one of those homes you describe. It is an honor to visit these people. I hope other young people will read this and do what you’ve done – visit, make someone’s life brighter, give them a smile, and get back a blessing and reward that is boundless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your comment made me feel so happy Sharon ! 🙂
      I feel obliged to come across people who’ve shared the same feelings and experiences. And agreeably, I feel the credit goes to the whole team of Old Age Homes’ (everywhere across the globe) who genuinely serve and guard our precious loved-one’s asking for nothing in return – Kudos and immense respect for each one of them.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. What a great experience! My younger-self’s attitude toward the elderly was similar to yours.
    But then one day, I began volunteering with geriatric activities at our neighbourhood care home.
    Before I knew it, I was hooked and spending all my spare time there. 🙂 💜 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can fully relate. There’s a realization that dawns on us when we practically implement and switch roles with others – that moment makes you aware how every person surrounding you has a story of their own – some bitter – some better, but definitely something from which we can learn and grow in life ! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed… we all are richer for realizing that each person has a unique story! 🙂 💜 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s an amazing thing you did Roopa & it’s beautiful to read your experience! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for acknowledging Divya! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Tat’s lovely. You never know, perhaps the oldies would love your young music collection and are getting fed up with the old stuff 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would love if that happens ~ such an awesome sight to imagine! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. krishna says:

    Really loved your article and the way you write it with a personal touch; it makes your writing appealing and interesting to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Krishna! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. ANM7 says:

    Can’t thank you enough for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can’t thank you enough for appreciating this post! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. A great feel-read Roopa ! The fact of the matter always remains doing or trying to see others happy, we being a source of blessings for others ! This very realization in itself so powerful a change agent! All these elderly deserve ..our love, little time or patience n a bit of thought putting us in their place ! Who will not grow old ? Why the aging must bring with it…seclusion, redundancy or aches ? Life goes on but how it goes that counts. A great decision ! Thanks for sharing a well meaning experience! Peace be to All!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely thought.. truly and strongly agree with you on the fact that no one can avoid aging – lets make the best out of the time that we have till then!
      Thank you so much for appreciating and praising the post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. kratzworld says:

    an experience worth sharing.. 🙂 I can understand how we sometimes neglect our elders. But I believe that old age is second childhood.. I have been lucky to experience love of grandparents and it is the most surreal thing in the world.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true..You’re lucky in that ways 🙂
      Glad you liked the post! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks again for nominating.. really appreciate it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely post; well written Roopa!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. cherylfoston says:

    Hi, What a lovely post. Thank you, for reading my blog posts as well. I greatly appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for praising..🙂
      I enjoy reading your posts.. keep the great work coming!🙂

      Like

  19. This reminds me of my visit to an orphanage that I visited a couple of years ago. There was a pleasant feeling when I stepped there. Still remember my pains and tribulations were hardly a pinch of paprika and oregano when I saw how they felt. And talking to them, hearing their stories, I couldn’t swallow their words of despair. All I could ask was a warm hug from them, and a promise to meet them whenever I felt my heart needs to be free from the mundane life. Thank you so much Tools, your words do so much justice. Thanks again. Keep writing. 😇😇😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel so good to hear your experience and to come across the fact that you made such a overwhelming promise to them. Glad you liked the post. Thanks. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Beautiful post. Loved reading how the decision affected your life… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. So glad you followed your mother into that old-age home – so many lessons to learn from our grandparents…And – life becomes more meaningful when we have others to care for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely true, thanks for acknowledging the post! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank YOU for following 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re most welcome 🙂

        Like

  22. I have a feeling that today’s youth are more matured than what we were at that age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you’ve had experiences that we will never get a chance to feel. 🙂

      Like

  23. Idle Muser says:

    What a wonderful post. 🙂
    One thing that I have learnt in my 22 years on this earth is ‘Mom is always right, no matter what the situation or topic is. At teh end, it’s her advice or intuition which proves to be right.’ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so true, mother’s are always right! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  24. SabahBatul. says:

    Loved the story..and the way you narrated it,it gave me a picture in my head of the things happening.Keep writing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really glad it resonated with you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Nam H Nguyen says:

    Thankfully, I don’t think I’ll ever have my parents in a retirement home. They have a made a statement on ends that they don’t (really) want me looking after them as a burden, but they’re well off enough that they can and intend to have home care together.
    That’s many years off though so I don’t have to worry about that eventuality right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Parents are never a burden – I’m glad you resonate with the statement! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Josh says:

    The best of bests. The blessing of those beautiful souls will be always with you to do such noble activities. Hats off! Respect.

    Josh

    Like

    1. I’m sure they will, such a sense of relief to have visited them.
      Thank you so much for appreciating the post, Josh! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  27. very interesting……

    Liked by 2 people

  28. askriverbed says:

    What a wonderful transformation, Roopa! So glad you chose to write this down and share it – I hope others will be motivated to stretch their comfort zone as well because of your example 🙂 Fine work!

    When I was in my early twenties, I took my guitar into a nursing home near me with friends from church. I felt very much the way you did – uncomfortable and unsure what my role would be. But as we talked with the residents and then sang hymns, one very quiet woman who had said nothing all day began to belt out the melody of the hymn we were singing. Still sends goosebumps all over me to know that the music stirred her spirit, and she wouldn’t have heard that music if we hadn’t come! God uses the ordinary to do extraordinary things 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So humble of you to share your experience. It felt so valuable to realize that there are people like you who sense the same. God indeed uses the ordinary to do extraordinary things! Thank you so much for your lovely comment and appreciation towards the post. 🙂

      Like

  29. This is a magnificent post. I was just saying this morning how caring is a spiritual blessing. Good for you. Sending you and your mom and everyone in the elderly home much love.
    Blessings,
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thanks a heap. Will convey your lovely message to everyone over here. Stay Blessed! 🙂 ❤

      Like

  30. Beautiful post.. and we should take of everyone with live. I visited an old peoples home in london …oh my …my heart breaks…

    What has happened… but in our indian family wgen a son gets martied and the wife plays games then the parents suffer..

    Sometimes i feel do us young one ferl we will never get old …and what we di wont come back to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that Karma does work!
      Thanks for appreciating the post! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too believe in karma

        Liked by 1 person

  31. natuurfreak says:

    Well done.Good post and unknow is most of all unloved

    Like

  32. I reckon everyone who looks up to your blog will come once(again!)to this piece,
    Knowing you personally(for almost a lifetime) and reading this just adds the awe factor!
    Well done comrade! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And, this came as such a lovely surprise!
      Thanks a ton for your timeless support, confidant! 🙂

      Like

  33. Good morning, This article is so well written and look forward to more. God is awesome and the more we seek Him the more He reveals to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. Thank you so much for showing your appreciation towards the post! 🙂

      Like

  34. albert says:

    It is a warming experience on a dark chilly morning to have had the chance (I don’t think “chance” itself is involved) to read your account of following your mother in generosity and into the largest kind of love, and then for me to hear all of your friends/readers’ messages about the experience–it gives me the best kind of chill while warming my heart. Keep sending your reflections out ! You are touching many.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad that so many readers could relate to the experience and it gladdens my heart more when I gather such lovely feedback from amazing people like you! Thank you so much for your kind words and acknowledgement. I really appreciate it! 🙂

      Like

  35. Opher says:

    The alternative to getting old is none too attractive. I enjoyed reading your account. I’m much nearer that end than you – but not quite one foot in the grave yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked the post!
      Age is just a number, I bet there must be instances that are worth cherishing along this age, that aren’t so dull than visualizing oneself stepping in the grave! 🙂

      Like

  36. Sunith says:

    It really helps to visit age old homes and hospitals to understand life closely, its realities and pain included.. Wonderful post this, Rupa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely and thank you so much, Sunith!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sunith says:

        You are most welcome

        Liked by 1 person

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