Life in Retirement Home before Sixty
An Article by Ms.Gita Ravi – A Resident of Covai S3 Senior Care Centre
Interesting subject, I thought. Many a time I get depressed at the thought that I have come here before my time. But I can hear my inner voice telling me to shut up and saying that’s not true. Once I get over this phase and look around, another voice tells me to stop acting stupid and count my blessings. Everybody goes through this emotion sometime or the other I think, so I decided not to sulk away anymore and count my blessings instead. So here goes…
Settling in a retirement home before the sixty hits you, has its own advantages. For those of us who are not blessed with close relatives, this is heaven where we can pick and choose a father, mother and siblings to our liking and lead a blissful life.
We learn that living one healthy day at a time is a blessing that many of us took for granted so far. We learn to enjoy the small pleasures of life which is only a dream for many. We learn the art of giving because we know that we are already in the departure terminal, different terminals, and same destination.
We learn that aches and pains can attack us at any point of time, not bothering what we were in the society and we have nowhere to go to argue our case. I wonder what these politicians would do and whether they will try to argue in the court of almighty with their money power against ailments/disabilities/death. Even Ms.Jayalalitha was not spared when many of us still feel she did not deserve this. But I guess all is fair in God’s Kingdom.
We learn to be patient with our family members who are hard of hearing, who has special needs, and, who has a nut or screw a little loose like myself. On a lighter vein, two friends will be talking so seriously, with one answering without a slightest inkling of the question asked. Yet, they are in deep conversation.
Conversations will mostly be centred on ailments and medications and most of them are very liberal in opening up their Pandora’s Box of ailments. Don’t be surprised, with the knowledge we gain here, we can put the most experienced doctor to shame. We have a problem for every solution.
We also have various solutions for all the managerial problems that when management comes out with suggestions to make life easier for us, we go like ”what the heck”. If only the management was smart like us or if only the management took our advice (god knows where they will land up, but that’s not our problem).
We learn the art of detached attachment i.e. enjoying children/grandchildren’s visit to the maximum and to let them go without getting affected, much thanks to our extended families here.
We learn to enjoy the beauty of nature in its full bloom. Also to take the fury of nature in a stride because it’s not our problem. We have only one thing to say. “Oh! We are paying the bills. So whatever happens we have to be taken care of”. Where in the world can we be so free that all our problems are tied in a sack and off loaded in the front office to be sorted out for us? Aren’t we a luck lot?
We learn to treat the staffs who serve us, like a family member, unlike our working days where a peon remains a peon for us till we/he retire. The meaning of his very existence was only to serve us, which are what our arrogance made us to think. I am sure at least some of us would have never given a second thought to these “children of lesser god”.
All our children work in exotic locations around the world. So going to Pachapalayam, “is in fashion now”. We take pride in bringing “Cleveland, Washington, various other parts of America, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland into our conversations and talk with greater pride about our children who took us there for holiday’s shhhhh! (Babysit). We come back with hundreds of tales of “Alice in Wonderland”. Aren’t we funny? We walk around blooming with happiness, carefully hiding behind a mask we wear, sometimes afraid of exposing ourselves. We find solitude in opening up to our friends.
And finally, the most important lesson of our life, irrespective of the positions we held. We need four people to carry us when we finally depart. At that time the very people we despised will be the one of the four pall bearers and in that condition of ours when all our arrogance, beauty, power and money has no value, we will wish for a second chance to be able to get up and say SORRY to people we hurt for no reason or the reason being as stupid as our thinking. So when we lay dead, let the radiance of our soul shine on our face so that we look beautiful/handsome while on our journey to meet the Lord almighty.
So let’s sing and dance and be merry. Most of our children do not want our money. All they ask in return is more of their time for themselves for whatever it is that they feel like doing. World has changed. Most of us lived life to the liking of many around us, too scared to step out of the rules laid for us, and, can we say we lead a happy life? I doubt. When we think deeply its all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. This generation is all about “I, Me and My happiness”. Let them live their life. We will compare notes from above.
As the saying goes “If you like something set it free. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t it never was”. I am slowly learning the meaning of these two lines and trying to live with this understanding. One thing I understood. Everybody, irrespective of whoever they are in society, will need a friend, a shoulder, to cry on. If that minimum expectation is not met within the family, then that person cannot be blamed for searching for understanding outside. Not all relations are physical. After an age, it’s only connection of souls. “Life is nothing but thinking” my ex boss used to say. I never understood the meaning of this till I came to live here.
Finally, we are lucky to be here with our extended families /friends/staffs that are willing to give all of their time to us and we will remain thankful for that.