We have all come to a distinctive period in our lives when senescence is actually taking a toll on our parents / grandparents. (no disrespect to those whose grandparents have passed away)
When I was younger, I can only recall my grandparents and parents as the omnipotent, omnipresent giants, who will linger over me, guarding me excessively like i was something frail. (Of course back in those days i was the sickly child, who's sole hobby was nitendo and sega in the quiet convenience of my home.) Whenever i stayed over at my paternal grandparents' home, i will always be asked by my grandma if i wanted a cup of hot milo (which in her case she pronounced it as MEE-LO). When i was in my 2nd or 3rd year in primary school, i fell victim to chicken pox, and my maternal granny came over to my home to watch after me as i serve my 2 weeks quarrantine. I must admit that it was a little annoying then, because she was fighting with me over TV, and i ended up watching ninja turtles in the bedroom, while she watched hokkien black and white operas in the living room.
My grandfathers were (and are still) pretty much keeping to themselves most of the time, you know, the way grandfathers are usually portrayed with the stoic front.It is pretty much like that, and my interactions with them are limited. But i can vividly recall one incident when my paternal grandfather actually woke me up very early in the morning of this oddly particular day, so that i could accompany him to the Jurong Market/Central Area. It was one of those days after a soccer match that ended like 4am in the morning, and i was woken up at 6 plus?..you can imagine how frustrated i felt.. Well anyway i followed along rather unwillingly, and we ate soy sauce pig trotters, soy bean milk and the likes in true wet market fashion. Then he went about buying groceries, and proclaimed to every other store owner that "this is my Da Sun" (big/eldest grandson). It is only later on that i realise it was him showing me off to his friends, which was why he insisted that i went with him to the market.
Only upon reflection did i realise that all these happened at least a decade ago. Many things have changed, many events both pleasant and painful, have unfolded. My maternal grandma (the one who fought with me over TV), has been wheel chair bound for 10 years since she suffered her unfortunate stroke. She can no longer express herself well, often struggling to utter half sentences. She totally resents going out in the public, due to fear of embarrasment, and this has kept her imprisoned in her own home for the better part of the decade, save maybe chinese new year when we will fetch her to someone's house to soak in the festive atmosphere.My grand dad also imprisons himself in the house, as he has no where better to go. This process is slowly retarding his reflexes and thinking ability, and he seems more forgetful than normal.
My paternal grandfather just entered hospital yesterday, on accounts that there are more white blood cells than red in his system: sign of infection of some sort. His health is ailing, from someone who could drag me out of my bed and walk with me from the HDB to Jurong Market; from someone who would travel on MRT alone to Raffles City just to eat pig trotters; from someone who enthusiastically wanted to show off his "Da Sun" to his friends, my grandfather is now a limp body needing help to even go to the toilet. He is now so weak that the other day he fell off his bed, cutting himself above the eye.
I read from somewhere this time management scheme which says "First things First". And amongst the "First Things', (things of high priority, things of upmost significance), is family ties. When was the last time you called or met up with somebody close and important to your life? When was the last time you had dinner with your family? In my view, it is more worthwhile to spend time on such seemingly minuscule acts, (which does not increase your net worth($)), than to spend time on trying to get a promotion or something. At least for me, this whole December will be a great oppoturnity to mend and heal all kinship/relationship, talk to my long neglected nanny, spend time with my friends, and to appreciate my grandparents and parents more. (even though my parents are really hard to please and are truly annoying) At least I will TRY to do my part, so that time and aging can do nothing to take away what is truly important to me..
I hope you BOTAKS will do the same too..