GROWING OLD

IT IS a cycle.

We are born into this world, get treated like Kings and Queens when we are babies, grow up to enjoy the fearless vigour that youth has to offer, then, we proceed to take on responsibilities of an adult…

Fast forward many years later, we all become old, succumbing to the care and attention a child once experiences.

Having my grandmother live with us since I was born until now, I see the cycle.

My grandma used to cook for me, tell me stories, be with me when I was ill, help take care of the house, and at one point — seems like yonks ago — even able to drive me to nearby areas (we have since stopped her from driving for safety reasons).

Now, it is our turn to look after her. We are always sure to hold her arms when she walks (last thing we want is for her to have another fall) and take over cooking from her. My mom sometimes showers for her, brings her for massage and her favourite food. I cut her nails, and arrange her weekly medication and supplements. My sister in law jokes with her and buys roast pork and fruits for her.

My grandma used to be stronger, more agile, and alert. She’s now more frail, forgetful, and can even sometimes conjure scenarios and things out of the blue! Just a few days ago, while she was in bed and I went in to check on her, she asked me to change into a new set of pants because she thought I had peed in the one I’m wearing (LOL).

That said, we are grateful she is still mobile, though movements much, much slower. This is why we try as much to take turns to fetch her to her friend’s house to play majhong while she still can.

And behold:

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She now colors books… and weaves art… like a child.

My mom recently bought her these books (from BookXcess in Starling Mall) — “Colour Therapy for Adults” and “Weave Art”, for her to keep active with her hands and mind, as well as to fill time. She’s good with her hands as she used to sew and alter our clothes.

It was such a heartening moment for me to see my grandma doing that — something so simple and yet fulfilling (for her) — with her kids. I mean, we used to enjoy doing arts and craft when we were young, didn’t we?

Beyond this, my mom has also downloaded a few meditation mantra (in Hokkien) for my grandma for her to listen to.

We all love my grandma and she’s a good person at heart.

But she also has weaknesses: She can’t seem to let go of the past, has a bit of trust issues (always think people are out there to get her), and tends to look at the small picture in things, especially when it comes to money. She also worries unnecessarily. We always tell her to let go and 看开.

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My grandmother celebrated her 80th birthday last month.

Speaking of which, of late, I find myself asking this: How do I want to grow old? And more importantly, how do I want to spend my days as an old person? In what state?

Do you wonder sometimes? What it’s like to be old, or how do you envision yourself to be when you’re old?

A food for thought.

I mean, we’re being taken care of when we’re babies, we grow up and start taking care of our babies, and then, we end up being taken care of again when we age.

Your prime, truly, is in your youth.

I have heard from some, that when they get to an old age and are not mobile anymore — having to depend on others to attend to their daily needs (such as feeding food, showering, cleaning up after using the washroom….) — they’d rather not live.

So it is in our duty to love ourselves: our body, mind, and soul.

And, to surround ourselves with people who are happy, uplifting, positive.

My parents are a firm believer of that — because who we mix with do shape our thoughts, perspective on life, to a huge extent.

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Above is a picture of my grandma and I at my graduation in Melbourne 7 years ago; August 2010.

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4 thoughts on “GROWING OLD

  1. Sheng Lee says:

    Food for thought: If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?

    • wltang says:

      Hi Sheng, that’s a food for thought. Though, the number of years you’ve given me to ponder is quite a large one – 60 years (two thirds of my lifetime)! Haha. Don’t most human beings peak at 30? I could maybe give a more straight up answer if it’s my last 10 years in this life. Even then, I would imagine it’s tricky to pick the mind or body. What about you?

      • Sheng Lee says:

        Peak at age 30? I whole-heartedly disagree! If I had to chose one, I’d rather have an active mind than an active body. The unfed mind devours itself. No point having an able body but not being able to recognise your loved ones – morbid but Alzheimer’s / dementia comes into mind here 😦

  2. wltang says:

    Haha oops, my bad! I take back what I said on peaking at 30. Didn’t quite mean that literally, but rather I meant the years we have left from when we have peaked physically and mentally. But I do agree with your answer that between an active mind and body, I would most likely pick the former too (if I had to chose… I hope not).

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