As I visited them, many of them did not even recognize me, but when they understood, they either hugged me or had tears in their eyes (I would take a huge liberty here and assume that those were tears of happiness). No longer did they have the strength to cook a three-course meal, but still they force fed me with sweets and snacks like they used to ten years back. While I was a little bored, while I was a bit impatient answering the hundred questions they had for me (the weak memory often made them ask the same question multiple times) and while I may have looked at my watch discreetly, at the end of the day I was deeply touched and significantly moved by the very idea of how crippling age can be. When it was time to leave, tears shone in their eyes, and this time, it was not tears of happiness. It was the fear of death, the fear of time, the fear that they may not be in a position to talk to me or greet me ten years later if that’s when I visit them again. It was not about me, but about them.
And then it hit me. You can’t hedge your bets against age. It WILL get the better off you. And it will get the better off you when you most vulnerable and have no one to turn to. Your spouse may not be around, your kids may have their own compulsions and your friends may well be in the same boat as you are. If you are lucky, you would have a compassionate nurse/maid to take care of you or sympathetic relatives or a half-decent old age home, where you are treated with respect and dignity.
I came back, my head hanging in shame, and promising myself that as an only child, I