This is what I’ve always wanted to do… I’ve always stayed with my grandparents ever since I was really young. I was fortunate to enjoy the company of both my paternal and maternal’s grandparents.
I think it’s sad when I see many grandchildren not able to connect with their grandparents. For me, it helps that I stayed with my grandparents since I was young. I’ve realized that there is always an instantaneous connection between grandparents and grandchildren. To me, it was always fun talking to my grandparents. Because they have “been there, done that”, they usually adopt a more relaxed attitude when it comes to taking care of my siblings and me. Not only that, it is precisely because of their age, they know that time is very precious. It is very refreshing to talk to them because they do away with hypocrisy and all the drama that most people seem to be stuck in. Ladies, if you want to know if you are fat, go ask someone old. They’ll usually tell you the truth. Most of the time, it hurts… but you will get over it.
I’ve observed that generally, people are kinder and more accepting of grandparents than their parents. For myself, unconsciously, I see my grandparents as “already old, already set in their ways”, so there’s no chance of changing their habits.
However, when it comes to my parents, I’ve always thought that they are invincible, strong and energetic. This is the image that I’ve seen of them ever since I was young. Hence, I refuse to accept any signs of weakness from my parents. I still believe that they can change their ways. This resulted in me being not as patient towards them as compared to my grandparents.
Some of my clients share with me their frustrations when their parents are very unreasonable with them. Through them, I realized that I’m experiencing the same thing with my grandparents. The difference is that because they are my grandparents, I can chat about everything silly just to cheer them up. On the other hand, for my clients, because they are their parents, there is an expectation of my clients to “behave themselves”. Coupled with their image of their parents being “strong, invincible and energetic”, it’s difficult for my clients to accept that their parents are really getting older.
For myself, the realization came in 2009. I’ve realized that, my parents are indeed getting on their years… They are no longer as strong, as invincible, and as energetic as before. It is only in that realization, that I’ve accepted some, but not all of their nonsensical ways (still trying to get rid of my mother’s worry wart habit).
Someone once told me this: Treat your parents the way you want your kids to treat you because children learn by actions of their parents, and not by what the parents say. The best way, is to let your parents stay with you. Sure, there will be a loss in privacy. But what your children get is invaluable.
Looking back, I would say that this is quite true. I cannot imagine how it would be like in my early years without my grandparents. It would be very boring, we probably cannot go out and play, probably, all 3 of us can’t ride bicycle, and we will probably be afraid to take risks. One of the best things we have learnt is that when a mistake is made, we must have the courage to face up to our mistake. We just have to correct mistake. There’s no need to be stuck that zone of unhappiness.
Not only that, I’ve seen how my parents care for my grandparents. It is indeed very frustrating… My grandmother, in her last years, had bedsore. It took 1 year for my father’s patient dressing of her wound on her back and constant reminders to her not to lie on her back. It took even more patience on my parents for care of my grandfather. He wails so loudly at night, that we were literally shocked out of our sleep to attend to him. In addition, because he has always been independent, he was not used to urinate in the urinal. So he constantly forgets that he is no longer as strong as before, and he forgets that there is a urinal beside his bed. Hence, he will get up and walk to the toilet. But he needs someone to be there to support him. So, my father placed a bell in his support, so that we can hear him if he gets up to walk to the toilet. At night, because my sister and my room are closer to his room, we will jump out of our beds when we hear the bell or his support banging on the floor. We’ll first try to persuade him to use the urinal. If all else fails and he insists on going to the toilet, we’ll let him go to the toilet. For your information, it took my family 2 years to get him use the urinal (Now, I get why there’s this idiom, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks). But there has never been a word of complaint from my parents.
Indeed we have maids. But no one can take care of your own parents better than you. And no one can tolerate your parents’ nonsense better than you. We have maids. But it is the little things that count. And maids… I’m sure all of us have our fair share of maid problems. There was one maid, who went around sleeping with men. I found out when I came home one day to take some documents for my clients. I saw my grandfather sitting alone in the living room watching TV and he asked me why nobody had given him food – it was already 2 plus in the afternoon. I went around the house looking for the maid and she was not in! I called my parents and they were shocked! I told my grandfather to just sit down and not move around (he was not supposed to be walking around without assistance by that time because he had fallen down) and I went out immediately to buy food for my grandfather. Guess what time she came back? close to 6pm! By then, my parents had come home. They decided to send her back immediately.
If any parents say that they are ok with going to old folks home. That is a complete lie. Being parents, they do not want to burden their children. So, they tried to be understanding. There was this period of time, when my grandfather had a bad fall, so he had to go through physiotherapy. And it was very strict there too. My grandfather had to pass a certain criteria in order to be discharge. He stayed there for 1.5 months. Throughout the period, we visited him every day. Although we explained everyday that he’s just there for treatment, I can see in his eyes that he thought that we were abandoning him. And he did not say a single word about it. Because it was the Chinese New Year period, we brought him back home for Chinese New Year for the weekends. However, when we sent him back, he was so sad. Luckily my parents had the determination, perseverance, endurance, and patience to, in spite of being scolded by him, make him exercise his legs and arms and gave him “extra” lessons so that he could “pass” the hospital’s criteria. When he came back, he was so happy.
It is in my humble opinion that young couples should stay on their own first, give yourself 3 years to get use to each other’s idiosyncrasies first, then move-in with in-laws once you start your family. I’m sure you will appreciate the help they’ve given you. Take care of them when they are old. It’s your duty as children. And it will certainly be easier for you if they stay in your place.
I am also aware that some parents are unreasonable. Well, all I can say is… it’s your parents… Only you can handle your parents. If you can’t handle them, who can! Find your way of handling them. Just keep trying!
It has always been a long-time wish that I can help the old folks in any way I can, to make the lives of these old folks better – that is one of the reasons why I want to build my wealth. Hence, I’m asking for donations or volunteers for all these old folks home. Charity begins at home. Help our old folks here first before helping others.
You can do a monthly donation, a one-time donation, or simply help by being a volunteer. Check out the following websites:
I would like to point out a little Old Folks Home:
Lee Ah Mooi Old Aged Home
450 Thomson Road
Singapore 298 132
Tel: 6256 1324
Fax: 6256 4601
I’m bringing special attention to it because its home actually consist of a little hut hidden in Upper Thomson Road. I feel quite sad just passing by it. It’s a small little hut. Almost as if the old folks are forgotten and tucked away in a little forest like place, even though just 5 mins away, there’s a major road with all the cars passing by it. Maybe one day, I’ll go there and snap a photo of the place so that you will know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes, I simply cannot believe that Singaporeans are so cruel to their own parents. Till today, I still can’t bring myself to go inside because I can feel the sadness of the place. Please donate generously to them.
Sadly, my grandfather passed peacefully away in Oct 2009, at a ripe old age of 101 years old in my (parents’) place.
Ah Gong, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for taking care of me for so many years, for your acceptace of me, for letting me do whatever I want as long as I clean up the mess, for letting me play even though my parents do not want me to, for buying me chicken wings and french fries in the afternoon after school, for teaching me how to ride a bicycle, for teaching me not to be afraid of anything, for buying something special for breakfast during weekends, for waking up early to wait for the school bus with me, for teaching me that cooking is an art of estimation, for waiting for me to get married before leaving and many others. Lastly, thank you for being my grandfather.