Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How much does love cost?

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and young people are probably getting frantic. While guys are agonizing over how many roses they can get away with giving without having to pay an arm and a leg, not to mention the exorbitant dinner that is mandatory, young ladies are probably in a flutter what they'll get and if it involves something small and sparkly. Seriously though, shouldn't this day be more about showing we care, to all our loved ones and not just our sweethearts?

I read too often about the elderly having to fend for themselves even though they have family. One shocking statistic suggests that as many as one out three people above the age of 60 are abandoned and have no financial support from their children. There are people who encourage or cajole their parents into signing over their (the parents) property to them while promising to take care of them in their old age. They then proceed to kick their parents out of their very own home. Some admit their aged parent into hospital with an ailment and leave them there, abandoning them to their own fate while leaving no corresponding address or telephone number, in the hopes that the government will take over their care. Others conveniently check their parents into an old folks' home and leave them there as well.

Some people reading this will probably say, "Well, I would never abandon my parents like that. I pay for their medical treatment. I get them a maid. I buy all their groceries. They have everything they need. My parents are lucky to have me."

My friend, K, just shared with me what she witnessed while undergoing treatment at a physiotherapy centre. An elderly woman was wheeled into the next cubicle and the maid literally lifted her like a baby onto the bed while the woman's middle-aged daughter stood by watching.  While the maid settled her and made sure she was comfortable, the daughter was texting on her phone. She then told her mother she would be downstairs for a drink, leaving the old lady with the maid.

While a roof over the head, food and medicine are important, sometimes the gift most appreciated is that of time. My mother spent years raising not just me but also my son. He would head to her house after school while I was working, and she saw to it that he was fed, did his homework and stayed out of trouble. I made sure she didn't want for anything, even though she had a pension, but I, too, am guilty of not spending enough time with her. Nothing I do now will make up for that.

My son, B, asked me a couple of months back if I would ever consider staying with him when he had a family. I was inclined to say no immediately but then I thought to myself, "Maybe I might want to, one day. You never know." So I told him no for now, but to keep asking me, every year or so just in case I change my mind.

So how much does love cost? Champagne and roses, 10 carat rings, condo and credit cards? How about a quick call to make sure your folks are okay, sitting down to a meal together without the interruption of smartphones and other gadgets, a prayer for their long and healthy life, a hug now and then?

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