I attended to a special patient who was brought in by her daughter. She was about 80 years old, refused to talk. 70% of diagnosis is good history taking, and since my cute little old lady (I have this thing about old folks and kids…. I find them extremely cute and I feel like squeezing them most of the time…err…in a non fetish sense of it.) refused to talk, I knew this case was going to take up much of my time. Internet will have to wait…I sighed. When asked any question, grandma just stayed numb and her daughter quickly filled the conversation void with answers. It did not take me long to figure out, the old lady was angry with her daughter. Her refusal to respond to her daughter when I asked to translate my questions was a dead giveaway. It was then that I requested her grandson, who was standing behind her to ask the same questions asked by her daughter and not surprisingly, the cute little grandma finally opened her mouth. And maaan, although I don't understand Mandarin or Cantonese, or perhaps it may have been Hokkien (my lost really), I could sense a lot of anger in her speech. She could have just summarized them all by sticking out her middle finger onto her daughter’s face, but luckily, she came from a generation that had not discovered the expletive properties of fingers.
I asked the daughter why was she behaving that way and I was told that she had been difficult for the past two months, refusing to eat and interact with others ever since she was admitted into the old folks home. Suddenly, the lady’s pertinacious deed became unraveled in its reason. She was just angry and silently protesting. I told the daughter just that but the daughter argued “Nooooo…. my mother is happy there” to which I answered at spinal level “She doesn’t look happy to me,” and I looked at her son and asked him, “does your grandmother look happy?”. Of course the son was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.
As everything got settled, and whilst they were all waiting for the medication to be dispensed, I could hear grandma’ daughter scolding her mother in a high frequency even dogs can listen.. I got really upset all of a sudden, and I went out into the commotion, intervened the impolite one way conversation, and politely told the daughter, “Using that tone on her is not going to settle anything”, and continued to mumble something else that I could not really recall now, as I have this inbuilt “spring” in me that snaps and my mouth goes on autopilot verbal diarrhea and out comes all the nasty thoughts and anger, unplugged version, when that happens. If there is one thing I cannot tolerate, besides having my queue cut, is people who are rude, especially to the elderly, be it related or otherwise. My “wire just putuihhh…”… I did remember telling that nasty woman, “you only have one mother, you should show her love and respect now. Even when she’s dead, you can’t turn those into papers and burn them to transport them to the after world”. Odd enough, that shut her up. She did not look very happy, in fact she looked pissed (like I care) and I could have sworn in ol’ grandma’s eyes, there was a hint of smugness in them. She may not have understood what I had said, but it made her daughter shut up, so she must have reckoned I said something effectively sharp. That and probably my smug expression when I headed back into the consultation room.
Honestly, can someone answer me this question, I throw it to the vast void, “If one mother can take care of many children, how can these many children have problems taking care of just one mum?”. The same applies to fathers. I can understand the concept of a nursing home, as senior citizens who need special care, such as Alzheimer’s may need constant monitoring which most children cannot provide since they need to go out and make ends meet. But what fault lies in simply being old? How can the children not appreciate the sacrifices made by parents in order to give them the best possible future? What use is it that one becomes successful in life yet failed to acknowledge let alone appreciate the very element that got him to where he is today? How big a house do you want, how big a car, how big your account in the bank you need to possess so much so you neglect your duty of being human on the road to success. Can you define your life as successful, if you have failed your own soul in nourishing it?
In most deaths, people cry not just because they miss the dead, but also they are haunted by guilt; guilty for not spending enough time with them, or taking them for granted, guilty this, guilty that. If you are busy right now, stop to ask yourself, when was the last time you spend quality time with your parents. We keep procrastinating spending time with them, because in our minds, our parents will live forever. It’s human nature. There is no point showing love when they are dead, just as there is no point giving Datukship to someone who is already dead. Humans need to be loved and appreciated when they are alive.
Ask yourselves this question. How would you like your children to treat you when you are old? Children, will follow what you do, not what they are told to do. Turn out, this “ settling your parents into the old folks home” may be “genetical” passed down too…..
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