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Sunday, 20 September 2015

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With their two children married and domiciled overseas they had no encumbrances. Lucy and her husband spent their retirement leisurely. Completing her household chores expeditiously she spent her time tending her plants. Many job offers came her way, but she declined, wanting to spend her retirement without any hassle. With her long experience in the field of administration she even rejected the job offered to her as the Manageress of an Elders' Home at first, but after much persuasion from her husband and the benefactor of the Home, she finally accepted it since the office was a few lanes from her home and it was just walking distance.

Lucy commenced her daily routine with much enthusiasm, firstly inspecting the seven rooms and speak to the inmates. Ten attendants were employed to work in shifts so there was no cause for complaint and all were well looked after. The twenty-five inmates were engaged in their favourite past-times during the day, reading, painting, knitting etc. None were very sick patients except for two who were confined to wheel-chairs. Even though they looked happy and contented, their stay in the home lacked a grievous wanting. A remedial solution was to be found fast, thought she.

Inmates

By the second week, she had won the hearts of many an elder and they all awaited her arrival every morn. Everything went off well here, but it was the heart-rending woes of the inmates that she could not bear to listen. Their tales etched in her mind most.

They were over eighty years of age, educated, still smart and good looking, left in the home to be looked after by others supposedly a burden to their families. True, their kith and kin paid very handsomely for their care, but she saw that what they all expected was compassion not forthcoming from their families.

Listening to their tales patiently was a daily routine. The majority had led luxurious lives but in the latter part of their lives living in isolation was the saddest, sans their assets handed over willingly or forced to forego to their families. Tears would well up in her eyes, she braved enough not to show her despair but had a kind word for all of them.

Partners

Very often when some of them re-lived their past speaking of their lost partners and how they cared for each other, she would dart to her room and cry for some time, it was really pathetic, what a world!, she thought.

It was on one such morning scurrying to the office that she saw a very pitiful sight.

Crouched by the wayside holding a bundle of clothes in her hand was an old woman, probably in her early eighties, looking forlorn, shivering from the morning cold air clad in her night clothes.

"What are you doing here all alone?' Lucy queried.

"Very early this morning my grandson woke me up, I was very sleepy, when he said, Grandma pack a few of your clothes, I will take you to your sister's house".

"But son", I said, "my sister is overseas".

With no more talk, he brought me here and said "Stay here I would be back with breakfast".

"I have an aching back-ache and have been waiting for quite a long time, yet he has not arrived, perhaps he has forgotten", she said.

Lucy knew at once this was another sad case left in the lurch. How could anyone do this to a feeble old lady.

The grandson would never return. She spoke with a tremble in her voice, it was clear that she was suffering from pain of mind and was also afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Most probably the grandson would have had an inkling that an Elders' Home was in the vicinity and abandoned the lady.

Without much ado Lucy brought her along and the new entrant related her tale.

Assistance

Jean was her name, a very pretty lady who had worked at an airline. She had met her rich husband while on duty and their parents did not oppose their marriage as they said they were the perfect couple. Her husband a landed proprietor had a few rubber estates which he managed and they lived in a spacious bungalow on one of the estates.

"I had all the comforts with valets at my beck and call. We spent our vacations overseas enjoying every second.

"Actually, I sometimes felt that we were the envy of some of my husband's closest friends who had broken homes, yet we did not care.

"After a spell of five years we had a son and I quit my job and in later years assisted my husband in his business affairs.

"My husband passed away at the ripe old age of eighty bequeathing his legacy in my name. Since my son was the only child after he married I transferred all my assets to him, including the bungalow hoping to live with his family.

"Life went off well and suddenly one day I fell ill and was confined to bed for a week. After that I was very feeble and required assistance to move about. It was after this that things were not rosy for me.

"One day my daughter-in-law suggested that I move into the store room near the kitchen which was earlier used to stack rubber sheets, and vacate the master bedroom as it was too large for me. I was very sad at her words but did not argue, my room which my husband and I occupied since I married that was almost forty-five years ago, how could one fathom what is in store for us she said sadly.

"After I changed rooms the after-events was sheer hell. Since I was feeble and broke many a glass cup, my tea and water were served in plastic cups. My food too was given in plastic plates as it is.

"I was allergic to plastics, the smell sickened me. Television and radio were taboo, nor was I allowed any entertainment, sometimes none of them would speak to me and I was solitary; a desolate in my loved home. My son visited me in the mornings before leaving on business, but I dared not complain to him of my agony; why create a rift between the family. Perhaps he too was aware of my plight but pretended not to show. I felt I was a burden to his family. My plea to him too would be useless, was my belief," she said, wiping a tear.

"On another occasion, I was delirious with high fever. They rushed me to hospital and left me alone for a week. I dreaded returning to my home and the room once again, since I knew the treatment would be as before.

I preferred to prolong my stay in the hospital, but was discharged. I told my daughter-in-law that I would like to return to my old room. She was totally against it and there ensued a verbal exchange of heated words.

Wicked

"It was after this incident that the following morning I was shoved at the wayside by my grandchild who is as wicked as his mother. It was too late when I realised my foolishness in handing over all what I had to my own kith and kin. I felt that their greed was the cause of my predicament," said Jean.

Lucy saw the other inmates moved by her story heave a deep sigh whilst a few wiped away silent tears.

"If not for Madam", Jean clasped my hands, "I would have been branded a beggar by passers-by," said she.

Jean's son was summoned to the Elders' Home immediately and reprimanded. He begged his mother for pardon and to return. But her refusal shamed him and she opted to stay in the Elders' Home.

What is happening to our society?, pondered Lucy.

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