Sunday, November 18, 2007
My Interviewee at old folks home
She is 89 and she is blind. She has been living in an old folk's home for more than 10 years. Her only son, not married and not doing that well, only comes to see her once a year - very briefly.
This is one independent and persevered woman who knows what is hardship all her life. She came to Malaysia from China to seek `greener pasture' upon recommendation by a relative and had been doing all types of difficult, odd jobs. Her husband died when their son was only seven. At a time when most parents are taking lives easy, she still had to worry for her son's living. The son then left her on her own taking care of herself even after she became blind...
That's just a very brief story of this old lady I met at an old folk's home yesterday. The last time I visited a home for the elderly was years ago. And I am shy to confess that the main reason I went with our church's social-concern ministry was that I needed an interviewee there for a story I'm writing.
And I'm glad this old lady was so open and chatty and had no qualms telling me her life story. The more I spoke to her, the more I grew fond of her and respect her strength and her positive outlook. Although she has had such a rough life, she didn't wallow in self-pity nor question God of her `fate'. Even as she is so old and blind now, she has so much dignity and still wants to make herself useful. She washes her own clothes and even attempts (with the help of the stuff there) to dry her own washing.
After the interview, she brought out an envelope that contained a photograph of an old-man - who is her brother in China. She said she has meant to write to him as he has been trying to get in touch with her for many many years. Since I know Chinese, I told her I could help her to write a short letter, so she dictated a few sentences.. And then she requested that I sent a photo of her (from those I took) to her brother. I think this is something I could do and am glad I can help in this way..
After saying bye to her and other old folks there, we visited another home and chatted and even played simple games with the old people - almost all were women. The living conditions of both the homes are really very basic and to me quite run-down. For the second home, most of the old folks just stay on their bed the whole day, which isn't very healthy..
It's a bit strange but most of them keep to themselves and do not mingle or `make friends' with the others.. but many are genuinely happy to see us because they get very few visitors.
I am very encouraged by my fellow church friends who are dedicated to the visitations every fortnight. Sometimes we get so caught up with the many programs and events in church that we have become inward-looking (I think I'm guilty of it too) After all, Jesus Himself was good friend of the marginalised people... and He would have also reached out to touch and care for these old folks who have been neglected by their families.
Yes, the visits were meaningful and I told myself I would want to visit the homes again, especially to see my elderly interviewee. I guess the biggest hindrance for me to join them regularly (I know this sounds terrible) is that I need to get up early at 8:30am! Hmm..which is not really that early to think of it?
I am praying for discipline and commitment, and a compassionate heart to really want to reach out and touch lives..