As parents, to care for a child from birth to adulthood is no easy task. Changing diapers, feeding, caring for them when they have a fever, bathing them, dressing them, spending those times with them, financially, economically.
Mothers especially, and when fathers play a lesser role in the physical tasks. Fathers who share those tasks would understand the stress or the joy of caring for a helpless little human.
What if you’re the role has been reversed? What if you are now caring for your parents; either father or mother or both? Old and fragile like a baby and requires all the attention your parents gave you as a baby. Are you doing it or sending them to some elderly home or hiring a nurse to do all the work without you sharing some of the tasks.
I am writing this while both dad and mum are resting after this early morning episode. This is the second episode which both my sister and I were afraid of because the first one we almost lost him. That was last year.
At 3.15 am my mum rang the bell I placed in their room so that she can call us for any emergency. I went to the toilet that time when I heard the bell. I quickly got my sister and we rushed downstairs and there my father was in the toilet vomiting and he also had diarrhea. He was throwing out so much of phlegm and he kept throwing up until nothing was there. It was painful for him. My sister being the physical person would help clean him up and I quickly fetched whatever she asked for to discard soiled clothing, etc. I gave him hydration salt water and some warm oats to fill his empty stomach. The episode went on about 3 times and we fed him after each episode. It was really tough to see him so weak and yet stubborn, refusing help and to listen to our instruction. Just like a rebellious little child, but sick and feeling helpless.
He wanted to lie down despite telling him to sit up and rest because the moment he laid down, he would throw up again. That went on until about 5 15 am. After some gentle coaxing failed, we had to be firm and strict with him which he hated but when I asked him “is it difficult to understand when I ask you to just follow our simple instructions to help you” He replied, “Ok, I will follow.” Of course, he forgot after that and we reminded him again and again.
After cleaning him up and wherever that was soiled and dirty, we managed to calm his stomach and my partner who is a therapist gave him massages to help his muscles to relax, dad managed to sleep soundly.
I sat down looking at my mum seated at the dining table looking helpless and sad. I said myself, this role has now been reversed and I cannot imagine how much they have gone through to bring us up. When this role was reversed eversince they started living with us, it taught me so much about myself and how much patience and sacrifices they made, especially my mother. My patience was tested when father behaved like a spoilt brat. Sacrifices, I made, I made that choice even to give up a good career opportunities to be close to them many years ago so it remains as they are my parents. I have been blessed many times over even with those sacrifices. Many doors are open when one door is closed. That is so true till today.
I pray my father to live a little longer so that he can enjoy his life and should he be called home, let him go in peace knowing that we love him.
Our role to be ‘parents’ is our natural duty because they could do it, so can we, as children. They gave up their dreams, their time, their lives for us. We can do the same.
Money may buy many things and services but it can never replace the time and love spent with them as they have spent their entire lives with us and for us. Even if they have not, they are still our parents.
My mother used to tell me much later in her life, “whether we eat rice or eat porridge, we are together. It is not the money, it is the time.”
We are blessed our elderly do not cry because they are neglected or unloved, but they cry because they know they are loved.
Note: I have to stress that I am not writing this to judge anyone. I am writing to share my own experience. So, please share your experience (but no judging, thank you).
‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.