Home for the Forgotten: A day with the Aged

Remember when you used to cry out of hunger and your parents would rush to prepare something to feed you?

Remember when you wet your bed in the mornings and your parents would wash the mattress and change the sheets without complaining?
Remember when you could barely dress yourself and your parents chuckled over your arduous effort while helping you out?
Or have we forgotten?
The ones who taught us to walk and talk, the ones who cleaned up after us, the ones who worked hard to ensure we had food on our table and that we received proper education.
One day, things will take a turn and it will be us in their very shoes.
What will we do if they are incapable of doing things independently?
What will we do if they struggle to feed themselves?
What will we do if they can hardly understand a word we say?
Safinah team with Jamiyah Darul Takrim’s Mr Amid and Mdm Fadilah, who assisted us that day.
In a bid to give back to the community, our team at Safinah chose to celebrate the remnants of this year’s Eidul Fitr with the elderly of Darul Takrim (Jamiyah Home for The Aged). Reaching out to senior citizens was a first for us, but we were all left with a heartfelt experience that made us reflect on our dutifulness to our parents and appreciate everything they have done and have provided for us thus far.
You would think that having frequent visitors would tire the elderly, but I was surprised to see their beaming faces – as though they had been anticipating us – upon our arrival.
“I waited for you to come in the morning! But you all came only now!” Exclaimed a wheelchair-bound grandmother – *Cik Hani (she repeatedly reminded me), whose handshake with me was prolonged by her warm introduction.
I walked up to each one of the gracefully-aged ladies, giving my greetings and salam and I remember vividly how one of them grabbed hold of my hand with a gentle smile spread across her wrinkly face. “How sweet of you to come visit. Thank you for coming,” she warmly greeted me, grazing her palm across my left cheek.
Although our itinerary for the day did not go as planned, we were assured and advised by the home’s senior officer, Mr Amid, that it was best to “go with the flow” and follow the residents’ mood. “The point is to keep them happy and entertained,” he smiled.
Amidst the karaoke performances, games, food and laughter, the purpose behind our visit was reiterated through the much deeper conversations we had as some of us sat down to hear their stories.
“It’s boring at home because I’m always alone.” “I like the company I get here.”
“I have no kids, so I depend on others to treat me like family.”
If we listen close enough to their words, we’ll hear a call for help, a scream for company, a loud cry for happiness in the face of loneliness and misery.
We were told a story whereby the children had come to take their parents home, but returned them not very long after because taking care of them was “difficult”.
Was it not, then, difficult for them to take care of us when were infants?
As much as we depended on our parents and elderly while we were young, they too need us. Growing old and frail and incapable was never their choice. It has all been decreed by Allah ‘Azza wa Jal, which most of us will eventually have to taste.
Yes, it may a challenging task to clean up after an adult, feed them, and deal with their tantrums. But remember that they were the ones who brought us into this world. If nothing we do can ever be sufficient to make up for their duties to us, then how far off would we be if we do not even try to reciprocate?
"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and be good to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of annoyance and do not repel them but rather speak to them a noble word. Lower to them the wing of humility for them out of mercy and say: My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small." (Surah Al-Isra 17:23-24)
Let us be righteous children and serve our parents better than they have served us when we were young and incapable, and let us be amongst those who remain patient with the trials and tribulations we are given. Ameen.
We would like to thank Jamiyah (Darul Takrim) for welcoming us and allowing us to spend a wonderful afternoon with the residents. Although the time was short, it enabled us to forge close bonds with the lively seniors.
As requested by some of the residents, we wish to come back in the near future and “bring more friends along” insyaAllah! Until we meet again. Thank you dear seniors for reminding us of our responsibilities as daughters and sons. 🙂
*Names have been changed in this post for confidentiality purposes.

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