There have been many discussions and talks on elderly care recently around me. It was just reported in the papers last week that many elderly live alone in poverty. Perhaps it’s because my friends and I are at that age (you know, call the middle age?) whereby our parents are getting old and needing more care, either in health care or financial wise.
My sister recounted how her husband’s ‘Grandaunt’ just had a fall and is now recovering in a nursing home. ‘She didn’t want any children because she thought them troublesome. Now she is all alone,’ my sister sighed, adding that her family had gone to visit the partially blind and immobile octagenarian at the home. I joked, ‘Then you better consider having more kids when you still can!’
‘More kids to take care of you when you are old? Fat hope!’ Says my friend S.
S is all prepared that her only son would not take care of her when she is old, although he claims differently. She often tells me this story of this person she knows, whose parents only received $100 from their five children and struggle to live on that. She lamented in Teochew, ‘The illiterate parents were able to support 5 children on one income, but the five children cannot even support the two elderly parents. What for give birth to so many?’ Since S’s parents are both dead, she needs only to make rare visits and contribute financially to her MIL. She tells me not to worry though. ‘Both you and Mike take such good care of both sets of parents, I’m sure your sons will emulate the good examples.’
‘Sons? Don’t hope.’ Implied my friend K, a optomologist working at the Singapore National Eye Centre when she called me up yesterday regarding my mother’s eye operation this Friday. She told me that she called me instead of my brother because daughters are different. Sons just do not bother. Her own father just had cataract operation and would not dreamed of ‘disturbing his son’ living in the same house, and had wanted to drive himself to the hospital and then back home. The son of course also did not offer. K chided her father for being a danger to other motorists and she had to bring her father home after the operation by taxi. I told her not to worry about my mother. Mom had already told me about the operation and I am on standby to pick her from the hospital after her op on Friday. My conclusion is that sons’ job are often more important, and this housewife daughter is too free sitting at home shaking her legs waiting to be ordered around.
Yesterday, I asked Mom how she was going to the after-op visit on Saturday. Did she discussed with my brother about sending her there? She knows I have guests in town. She did not (what do you expect?). They are leaving for a holiday to Malaysia after voting, so I am thinking she’d rather not trouble them. Then how? Can you take a cab together with the maid? Looking almost pitiful, mom said our neighbour Aunty Pearl has agreed to drive her.
I feel guilty. I have been telling her ‘No’ often ever since she got rid of her car. Send me to market? No. Drop me off at Karaoke? No. Pick Sebby and me from school? No. But sometimes I do feel she takes advantage of me. Like yesterday. She had wanted me to pick them up from playschool again after my yoga. ‘No, I don’t want to make it a habit,’ I told her. ‘What habit? It’s only once a week.’ (See what I mean? I’ll become her regular chauffeur.) I am standing firm. (Somehow it’s just so difficult for some people to spend money on taxis. An aunt once commented while I was driving her to the hospital for an emergency visit to her husband that her daughter was such a ‘poor thing’ as she had to take a taxi to the hospital from work.)
Yesterday I told Andreas I needed his help with my work at his alma mata on Thursday afternoon. He was reluctant, and gave various excuses. I asked him, ‘How often do your parents ask you for help?’ Immediately he replied he helped papa carried the boxes of bottled water to the car on Sunday during dinner. That’s it? Well, I need Andreas’ help to carry the same two boxes of bottled water to the school’s staff workshop. I assured him I have no one else to ask for help as it’s not a PSG event and the request to him is a last resort. ‘Ok lah, ok lah,’ was his gruff response.
I wonder who is more pitiful, my mother or me?