|Posted by Crystal Calibo on January 4, 2011 at 10:20 AM|
Sirach 3:12-13. Son, take care of your father when he grows old; give him no cause for worry as long as he lives. Be sympathetic even if his mind fails him; don’t look down on him just because you are strong and healthy.
An experience in April 2007 traumatized me in such a way that I dislike looking at the elderly, for the mere site of them could move my heart to weep as memories slowly fill my mind. Memories so clear it seems like yesterday. It’s the memory of when my beloved grandfather, the one who actually brought me up since I was born, died in my arms. I resist the scene as it flashes back in my head, for it fills me with much hurt and remorse. Hurt as I lost a loved one…. So much remorse since I was not able to give him due attention during his final years as I was enjoying my youth. If only I was able to talk to him in the same way I elaborate my daily affairs with friends. If only I was able to spend more time with him like how I stay late working. If onlys… Indeed, regret is always in the end! I remember how he hungered for information about me, how he thirsted for my care, how he wished I was always there.
I participated in the Visit to the Elderly organized by Couples for Christ (CFC) Bermuda Social Ministry last December 18, 2010. Approximately 20 CFC volunteers were divided into two groups: one group in Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence and another in Westmeath Residential and Nursing Home. This was the second visit, the first being last March 1st 2009 with 40 volunteers. The goal was to spend an hour with the elderly, share stories with them, entertain them with Christmas songs, and feed them cookies during their afternoon teatime.
I joined the Westmeath group with 7 other volunteers. With few volunteers compared to the number of residents, the participation of each volunteer was very crucial. The afternoon started with a brief introduction, followed by the volunteer’s presentation- the Christmas Medley. After which, the volunteers shared stories with each residents while Christmas carols are sung by the music ministry. I was moved by the delight in each resident’s face. Most residents joined in the singing, clapping to produce beat to the songs. I could see how their faces brightened up upon hearing the Christmas songs. Their eyes twinkled. Maybe they remembered their younger years when they were able to spend the holidays with family and friends. Maybe we were an entertainment compared to their, perhaps boring, routine. Whatever it is, what is important is we were able to bring happiness to the elderly. We allowed God to make us instruments of joy.
The afternoon ended with a short prayer for the residents. I could see the residents were sad when we left. They yearned for more. One particular resident was requesting we record the songs. They were very appreciative of our short visit. How nice of them! As a gift, we gave them a CD so they can continue listening to Christmas songs.
Such an experience consoled me from the guilt I was feeling. It awakened my mind and I now realized that instead of wallowing myself in guilt, I could do better by reaching out to the elderly. They may not be my relatives but as we are all God’s creations, we are called to love one another. Those residents hungered for love and care. It’s a great experience to help fill it. Also, it’s an opportunity to practice the Filipino’s tradition of caring for our elderly relatives.
Back home in the Philippines, it is our tradition that the elderly stay with their children or relatives. Thus, children, grandchildren and relatives take turn in caring for the elderly. However, at this time when most Filipinos are working, whether locally or abroad, caring the elderly is usually left to the non-working family members or the “yayas”. Perhaps the call for the rest of us is to take extra efforts so our elderly feel we love them as well. Frequent calls and more visits hopefully compensate our time away from them. Hopefully, we will be more compassionate with them.
May we, members of the CFC, continue to be a blessing to others especially to our weaker brothers and sisters, like the elderly.