Last Sunday, December 13, 2015, my mom invited me to go with her to Grace, a home for the aged just at the back of SM North Edsa. My younger brother also came along with us to take photos, unfortunately, the place doesn’t allow visitors to take photos of the elders’ faces. It would have been a good opportunity to take raw photos of the grandmothers and grandfathers in the home, but since they had rules, we abided.
I expected to find a clean room full of happy lolo’s and lola’s laughing, clapping hands, and mingling with each other. I was wrong. I saw the complete opposite of what I expected the place to be.
I’m sure the staff in the home of the aged are doing their best to accompany and take care of the old people, but it’s still not enough to sustain the cleanliness of the place and the people themselves. It’s actually sad how the lolo’s and lola’s were abandoned there without care, thinking that what little financial help their children give, if they give any at all, would suffice for the needs of their parents. Little do they know that they’re needed the most, especially at that stage of their folks’ lives, and not their money.
When we got to the place, the first resident I saw was an old grandmother in a dress with her neck and her wrists adorned with pearls. We walked farther in the hallway and at the far end of the premise was an ongoing mass, initiated by my mom’s friend. For her birthday, she chose to celebrate the day with our beloved lolo’s and lola’s. She treated them with gifts, food, and music. While the hired band played, some of the residents got up on their feet to dance and they even went to the front of the dance floor to dance with each other and bring happiness to the other elders.
I’m not even close with my own set of grandparents – my grandparents from my father’s side passed away years ago when I was way younger. I have very little memory of my grandfather, one of which is when he would fondly offer us biscuits from his jar, which is always placed on his bedside table. On the other hand, Kong Kong, my lolo from my mother’s side passed away seven years ago. Still, this experience is life-changing. It is bittersweet for someone like me who seldom goes outdoors but sees situations like this. Reality really bites.
What’s more ironic is coming from a place of underprivileged individuals, and old ones at that, while when you turn the corner, a giant building of a mall consumes the rest of your view. You can encounter thousands of people roaming on the shiny floors of the mall, looking at every shop available at their disposal, hours are spent just to look for that perfect Christmas gift, but sadly, not one of them has the guts to pause from the hurly burly of the city life to pay our lolo’s and lola’s a visit even for an hour. I tell you, one hour is enough to feel so much for the elderly, to feel their pain, their lack of judgement, their emptiness, their numbness.
As much as I feel so much pain for the elders’ situations, I cannot fathom to see them in that kind of state all the time. It’s both pitiful and sad, probably so much to bear for someone who has too much compassion. Clearly, it’s not for the weak at heart.