Monday, March 9, 2009

When the Parent Needs the Child

In the past couple of months, some friends of mine have lost their parents. A couple of them have parents diagnosed with terminal illnesses. The difficult and painful conversations I had with them left me in a melancholy and a soul searching mood.

The stories I tell are a reflection of our times and also question how and who really benefits from the disintegration of joint/extended families. The oft used phrase thanks to opening economies and globalization " The world is a small place" seems to be true for us, the generation X, but for our parents it means a lonely old age, with visits to children and grandchildren, the frequency of which depends on distance, budgets, schedules and willingness mostly of the super busy children.

Since we are dashing off from one goal to the other and planning and micro planning for a future over which we do not have any control really, we hardly have any time to pause and think. The slightly numb, over achieving, more or less self absorbed generation that we are , we need something drastic to move us and get our attention. Though we are also a people with some or the other kind of attention disorder and whatever stops us and encourages self introspection and possibly regret followed by change, is also not gauranteed our fullest and sustained focus. We will surely flit to another more pressing concern and paint a coat of "justifications", "logicality", "practicality" over our selfish acts.

Anyways here are some of the events which gnaw at me........

'A' lives in UK, far away from her parents who reside in India. She suddenly gets a call informing her that her father has taken seriously ill. En route to India she finds out he has had a brain heomaarege and is in a coma. He it seems and so she believes, is hanging on to his life only to allow her to see him 'alive' once, before he departs this earthly abode. He passes away some hours after her arrival.I feel, even in his dying moments, he is the quintessential parent worried more about the child than himself.
She is tortured by the fact that she used to get to see her parents only after a year and a half. And every visit she felt that that they had aged years and looked different from the last visit. With dread I admit, I too, completely relate with this feeling.

'K' and his sister 'B' lived in the same country, India, as their parents, but in different cities. Both lead busy lives and regularly visit their parents. Yet they somehow were not present when their mother had a pacemaker installed. She is about to visit 'K' next month,who is expecting his second child. She has a massive heart attack and passes away on Friday night. 'K' and 'B' could reach only on saturday morning. Their father spends the night alone in the hospital with his spouse of over 40 years lying dead on a cold steel bed. 'B' cries and so do I along with her that her departed mother had requested that they keep their leaves intact because she really wanted her children to be with her when she got her pacemaker replaced in December. The mother confesses, hated being alone the first time around. 'B' sobs heartbreakingly and says "we are useless, we left her alone". And I cry with her knowing the same holds true for me.

'R' and 'M' are wracked with guilt because their mothers underwent chemotherapy and recovered after an accident respectively and did it alone. Both 'R' and 'M' have been blessed with great extended families who rallied around their mothers but the bottomline remains that the children were absent. 'R' and 'M' have trouble meeting the eyes of these dear family members who care for their mothers but who also are a constant reminder of who and what they substitute for.

In a world where parents are loudly and self righteously blamed for psychologically and emotionally, scarring children by a variety of methods...abuse and neglect being primary, why is there no fingerpointing and reprisal if it is the other way round.

I also know what I am guity of and how so. I have my own personal demons to slay and hopefully having done that, will have the courage and goodness, to do what is only right.

13 comments:

Patricia Torres said...

Your post had me in tears... This is so true. Thank God... my mom & dad live with me.. and after reading your post.. I wouldnt have it any other way!!

Thank you for making me aware of their importance in our lives..

Piper .. said...

I`m speechless. I dont know what to say..You know how very close to my heart this is, dont you?

Chrysalis said...

Patricia

You are so fortunate that your parents live with you. Nothing could possibly be better than that. I envy your position and admire you for your choice. Thank You for being an example and a right one at that.

Chrysalis said...

Piper

I know this is important for you and dont think I dont admire you for dropping everything and rushing off to be with your dad, when he needed you the most. After coming here I have seen many sorry excuses for human beings who have chosen not to go to visit a parent on deathbed or even for their parents funeral (its true) for reasons as selfish as GC and Citizenship. Sick but true.

Aditi said...

Thank you for writing this post. You touched on a subject that is constantly on my mind- how can we care for our parents when so much physical distance separates us? Make every effort to be there for them.

Chrysalis said...

Aditi

Thanks for visiting my space and leaving a comment. This is a subject which is close to my heart and I think a pressing concern of our times.

rupa said...

Very touching. Even after coming back we are still away from our parents. Always on a look out to see in which ways we can be there for them. I have seen the confidence that a parent gets when a child is near in my FIL.

Chrysalis said...

Rupa,

Thanks for your comments. I know what u mean when u say the difference that comes when the old parents are surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

Renu said...

very emotional post, brought tears to my eyes.
You post and comment on Piper's post has given me a new perspective also, but now i think....... I used to think and even saw that if the children sacrificed their plum postings for the parents, they were very bitter about it later on, and so I always thought it better to let them go.

But you have compelled me to think again...why cant children be satiafied with less money and lower lifestyle with parents, why do they opt for good job , even if it is without parents.

i also wrote earlier about this...why children dont take decisions considering parents also, wheres parents always took every decision putting their welfare first?

Chrysalis said...

Renu,

OMG I cant tell u how much your comment means to me. I am so glad you are rethinking your stand. I am troubled by all the excuses we give for not being there for either our children and parents. Actually we do not need 'ALL THAT' to survive and sustain, which forces us to depend on old age homes and day cares. And success has been wrongly defined ..this is Kaliyuga after all.

Prajakta said...

very true, very nice & touchy article, Just because I am in India, my mom is so relaxed by thinking that if anything happens to any one, we r there to hlp them, same with my in laws....thats wahat we want to give them always & every time...

Chrysalis said...

Prajakta

Thanks for your comment. I totally understand what you are saying. I am with you on this one completely.

Smitha said...

Chrysalis, Your post brought tears to my eyes... You have touched upon something I feel very strongly about... You know what my problem is? My parents are extremely independent and they want to remain independent and not a burden to anybody!!! How do I convince them that they can never be a burden - that we want to be there for them... I just hpe that I am able to convince them, when the need arises...