Love them now

*First appeared in my column, INSPIRE AND EQUIP! (Tempo/Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp.), Oct. 30, 2016

How can I forget the fuming woman with kids who had to wait for an available shopping mall stroller for the elderly? She said in a loud voice, “Sumama-sama pa kasi! Ipapasyal ko lang naman ang mga ito! Umuwi na tayo!”  I wondered if she was referring to her own parent, or an in-law. Whatever the answer, I am sure of one thing – her kids will become (Heaven forbid) just like her!

How do you treat or label old people, including your own parents – especially when nobody is looking?

I have seen and heard of people who sacrificed almost everything for their children – only to be told (verbally, nonverbally, or both) when they are old, sickly, clumsy, and penniless – that they have become such a burden. What could be more heartbreaking than the fact that many of them have chosen to live like nomads or paupers even if they have families capable of caring for them?

According to reports, there is an increasing number of Filipino elderly who are forced to stay in homes for the aged. Foreign media have exposed the cruelties committed by a few employees of nursing homes abroad. You have also probably heard of similar stories from Filipino caregivers working in other countries. Even if such stories are “isolated” and unknown to the majority of old people, I can not see how Filipinos who lived practically for their families can even imagine themselves being “thrown” in such institutions. In our culture, senior citizens are valued and respected. Have the times changed?

For people who can not boast of anything but their children and grandchildren… for people in their twilight years, I think the mere idea of living in a home for the aged is a nightmare. Maybe they think protesting is useless, but their silence does not mean they agree to it.

Are you pressured, irritable, and tired due to the rising demands of caring for your children and your aging parents? Look for trustworthy relievers so you can have some time for yourself. Ask your relatives to do their share. Financial support is important and is appreciated, but it is not enough.

The Lord is pleased when He sees that you care about the elderly. No one else can take of your parents the way loving relatives do.  They need you now. Remember, they never gave up on loving you. Love them now!

These are lines from a poem by Ali Ben Abu Tabb: “Love me now while I am living/Do not wait ‘til I am gone; and then chisel it in marble – warm love words on ice-cold stone”!

(Marilyn Arayata: inspirational author and speaker, your partner in preventing bullying, depression, and suicide. E-mail inspire.equip@gmail.com. Like and share this column. Like the Hope Boosters Facebook Page, too!)

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