29 April 2006

On Growing Old

When I visit with my parents usually, my mother and just sit and chat about day-to-day stuff or maybe any of her problems. But today when I was visiting with her and we chatted, I realized how much old people dread being a drag on others, but at the same time so need to feel wanted and loved. In fact, the older you get, I think the greater the need for the warmth of love—just as one would give a little child.

My mother is an independent person and does not like to bother anyone. So if she gets no other visitors but me, she doesn’t complain. But how she loves it when her grandchildren or nieces and nephews visit. Today my daughter was in town with her little baby. She went over to visit with my mother. I know my mother totally enjoyed the company of her granddaughter and great grandson. But if my daughter hadn’t visited she wouldn’t have said anything though she would have been quite upset. The feeling I get is that as one grows older, being in the company of younger people makes one feel more alive, more in touch with the future—even though the that future may not have you in it.

Unfortunately, many old people do not inspire the love they deeply need, as easily as little children do. I am truly lucky my mother is someone I enjoy spending time with.

I just want to say to anyone reading this, if there is some old person in your life who you used to love when they were younger and who loved you, and you have been out of touch with them, let them know you remember them and that love.

19 April 2006

The story of two women.

This is a story about 2 women, from my town—lets call them Su and Sa, both from a lower-income group.

This is the first story. Sa is a hard-working woman in her late forties. She got married around 9 years ago. He told her he had nobody and she says she felt sorry for him. Also, her mother had died and she was staying alone in the house she had built and thought having a man around would be a source of strength for her. Some source of strength!!

Firstly, he said he was very ill and had something wrong with his brain for which he had to go to see a doctor far away from the town, which required a great deal of money, as far as they were concerned. She worked hard and gave him the money. Then there was some business he wanted to do, of planting ginger (or whatever). All of that was financed by her. She bought a TV on loan, got a cable connection, made the house as comfortable as was possible with her work. He was usually too ill to work. It was only after about three or four years that she found out that many of the times that he said he was ill he was just plain drunk!! Then he started beating her up occasionally when he was drunk. Mind you, he and she were around the same size. She could probably have defended herself, but didn’t.

But one day he overstepped himself. He sold gold jewellery that she had carefully collected over the years, while she was out at work and what was even worse, sold the goat that she loved like a child. That was too much for her to take. She decided to take up a job which required her to stay out of the house.

Even so, out of sympathy, on Onam—the biggest festival here in Kerala, India—she went to cook the traditional goodies for him. But he, he was drunk and wanted more money from her to drink. Apparently he slammed her against the house wall, he hit her, verbally abused her. She did defend herself. So she didn’t get more hurt. She ran out of the house. She decided that she had had enough.

But their saga continued. He locked her out of the house. When he found she had a key too, he changed the lock. Recently he set fire to the house while he was drunk. The precious TV, on which she had just finished paying back her loan—burnt too. She went and confronted him. All the neighbours came out to listen. Believe it or not, a neighbour, a politician & woman mind you, spoke on his behalf, telling her she should take care of him as she had been living with him for so long!!!!!!

The story of Su is similar. But she is already a grandmother although only in her late 30s, as she got married at 16 and has two daughters, the elder being married. Her 2nd daughter is studying nursing.

But in this Sa has far more advantages. 1. The house and property are in her name. 2. She is not legally married to this man, luckily for her in this case. So the law is on her side. 3. She has no children. 4. She can easily support herself as she is so hard-working. 5. She is not a meek woman. Also, while she is working to get him out of her life permanently, she has a secure place to sleep and a safe place to keep the rest of her possessions which she moved from the house.

But for Su, as she told me, “Where can I go? The house is not mine. My daughter is still studying. Also my elder daughter is married & lives very near to my house. If I leave my husband will never allow me back. Then where will I go and how will I be able to see my daughter and grandchildren?” Her only insurance is this daughter, who is studying nursing, who she hopes will take her of at least a little.

What then is the meaning of being a woman?

11 April 2006

To my mother.

This morning I was visiting with my mother, who is 89. I was there because she was very upset about some personal problems in her life and had asked me to run across (she lives next door to me.) We made a couple of phone calls and she asked me to check her mail. Then she wanted to hear the hymn “Whispering Hope”. So I found a MIDI site with the lyrics and we both sang the song and then sang a few more hymns. Then we sang some of the old songs she knew like ‘Ramona’, ‘Beautiful Dreamer’& ‘Far Away Places’. She was always into Western music and was also pretty clued into our songs when we were growing up. So we also sang along to ‘Blowing in the Wind’. She used to love some of the Joan Baez songs as well as some of those of Simon and Garfunkel. Those she has CDs of tho’. It’s only the older songs like 1920s, 30s songs that she loved, that are difficult to find.

I truly admire her indomitable spirit. She looked after her younger sister for five years, watching her deteriorate in front of her eyes. [My aunt had Parkinsonism and so by the time she died in 2001, she was completely unable to move, or communicate in any way.] Now she looks after my 93 year old father who has senile dementia and is mostly in bed, though she herself broke her hip & walks with a walker. She has help it's true. Still.......... I know she is sometimes weary of this life,but she soldiers on with the help of music, books, e-mails to children & grandchildren and phone calls to far-flung nieces & nephews who were always welcome at our house. This post is a salute to my mother and others like her out there in the world. Here's to you !

10 April 2006

Empty nest syndrome.

When I see blogs by so many young mothers, I remember the oh-so precious moments when my children were very young. I enjoyed them thoroughly.

The empty nest syndrome hit me like a ton of bricks. As each child left home to go to University it hurt so much. To me, their vulnerability in facing the tough world outside (maybe because we lived in a small town), added to the sadness of missing them. When the youngest left, it was by then such a deep physical ache that took so long to fade.

But somehow, when they each found their own partners and were happy, it eased the ache in my heart so much. Now, even when they come and visit and leave, there is no heartache, if they look happy. But the minute I feel one of them has a problem, the ache comes, even if I know that I have to leave them to deal with it on their own.

The children always tell me not to worry. But then, as I am sure other parents will testify, one’s child is always one’s child, whether 1, 19, 30 or 50. As my own son admitted after seeing his nephew for the first time, “No wonder parents find it so difficult to see their adult children as grown up, after seeing them in this helpless state!”

05 April 2006

joys & sorrows

I think one of the hardest things for me in being a mother, is seeing one’s child in pain and knowing there is nothing you can do to take the pain away. This is more so when the child is an adult, because then there is the fact of invading their personal space. It takes all my control not to interfere, to be involved without being pushy. I have gone through this a lot because my eldest son has suffered a lot in his 32 years of life. He had an intra-spinal tumour, with all its attendant problems and pain, made worse by the fact that it was detected only by the time he was 16. He was operated upon at that time in London.

He recovered from all that and went on to become a lawyer who enjoys his work. Also, he got married 3 years back to a lovely girl, also a lawyer like him.

But then recently he underwent another surgery for correcting his scoliosis, (developed because of the earlier tumour) which was extremely painful. My daughter-in-law coped somehow, both of them working from his hospital room whenever possible. It was then, seeing him in so much pain that it made me feel even more helpless, probably more so because I knew that now I was only on the periphery of his life. All I could do was pray and to be there if they needed us. Anyway, I know I respect my son tremendously, for the way he deals with his pain and his life and I am truly grateful to my daughter-in-law for the loving, patient way she copes. To any of you out there in a similar situation, my prayers are with you.

02 April 2006

How others live and cope.

It's really interesting to read the blogs of so many women from around the world. I only wish I knew more European languages to be able to see into those cultures too. I have yet to find a blog of someone like me—a post-menopausal just become grandmom and am really hoping to do so. But I thoroughly enjoy reading the blogs of these mothers of young children, Queen of Spain and Baby Powder. Thank you ladies for giving me an insight into being a young mother in the US.

01 April 2006

I've changed.

I started blogging entirely for myself. I hoped that by publishing my take on my life, I would gain a new perspective. I suddenly realise that I have gained and when I read the first blog I wrote, I can see I have changed. I feel far less depressed now. Of course I still don't think I'm the greatest. But I certainly feel much better about myself. Then it may also be because all the hormonal changes of menopause are finally wearing off! Incidentally, I just want to share with all those women going through menopause out there, I am truly greatful to be post-menopausal. I know I will have to be a bit more careful about my health, But I am truly glad. The peri-menopause was rough though. Anyway, I am soooo glad that's over. Life seems to be far less stressful now.