Mother’s Day 2008

Plight of those in old folks homes

The mother is the most revered person throughout the history of mankind. Mothers are revered and adored, showered with affection, and shown great respect. She is held in high esteem in all cultures and she is considered next to God in importance by all religions. In fact Islam teaches that Paradise is at the feet of your mother” and Hindus regard her as a goddess of love. A Jewish Proverb says God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers”.

All wise men of the past seen to concur that a man who does not please his mother it whatever he does will never find true happiness in his own life. From my own experiences over five decades, I can vouch for the truth of that statement.

Many of us may be contemplating how best to celebrate Mother’s day this year. It may be pertinent for us to take this day as an opportunity to reflect on the numerous physical, mental and spiritual problems, that our parents encounter, especially the very old and infirm, as they outlive their usefulness to us and our family.

With materialism becoming a way of life, the care of the elderly is becoming an increasingly common problem for all. Young married couples have to work so hard to make ends meet that they have practically no time for the elderly who demand for more attention. Homes for the aged which were a taboo before are now being accepted as the only practical choice these days. May be on this auspicious day we should reflect on how some of our mothers may be languishing in such old folks’ homes.

I had the opportunity to visit some of these elderly people in such homes where I got to understand two important features of these people who are in the twilight of their lives. Firstly none of them are happy to be in such homes separated from their families and secondly the extraordinary love they have for their children, however negligent they may be.

Most of them in these homes appear to be happy as they are provided with all their physical needs, food shelter and the company of other residents. However when we get to know them more personally, we will be surprised to realize the agony and pain these old folks are enduring in silence during their stay in such homes. This is particularly true for those who are mentally alert but physically infirm.

Despite all their needs are being met yet we can sense they were missing something in their lives. They long for something that money cannot buy, something that no relative or friend can give – love and affection of their own children. Yes, they long for the company of their children and grandchildren.

In the twilight of their lives, it is not food, shelter, comforts or gifts that matters most. What really matters is the love and company of their own children. These elderly people in old folk’s homes generally are lonely despite being surrounded by people and regularly visited by friends and relatives.

As we step into our sixties, we begin to experience a strange fear, a fear for loneliness. We tend to cling onto our children and we want them to be with us always. If we become inflicted with some illness this fear is greatly exaggerated and I can imagine the agony we will undergo when our own children at that stage in our lives neglect us as they would be too preoccupied with their own lives as we are with ours now.

The second observation that touched me was the unshakable love these oldies have for their children. They may be unhappy with their children for having sent them there but they never let them down in front of others. They are eager to go back home but they do not mind bearing all the pain and agony of staying in a old folk’s home just because they do not want to trouble their children by becoming a burden to them. It is a pity that many of us do not appreciate this boundless love of our elderly parents for us despite all our acts of ‘cruelty’ towards them.

There is no doubt that the best place for elderly is their home but sending our aged parents to old folks home does not necessarily mean we are ungrateful and cruel. What is important is to provide them with the best we can and give them the reassurance that we are there for them when they need us.

Frequent visits to them and bringing them back home whenever possible will go a long way in reassuring them of our love and concern. Another important thing is to encourage the grandchildren to be close with them as much as possible. We must remember our aged parents are our responsibility and ours alone. Relatives and friends may help but they cannot replace the own children.

It is easy and exciting to be with our parents during happier times however it is more important for us to be there for them when they really need us. When they are seriously ill, handicapped, and bed-ridden or on their death beds are we there for them to give them the moral, physical and spiritual support that they need? All they may need is just our consoling words, our loving touch or a hug but are we physically there to render that?

On this Mothers’ Day let us remember our mothers who may be languishing and yearning for our love in old folks’ homes. Let us find some place for them in our hearts and some time to bring them back to our homes where they can once again experience the love, affection and the company of her loved ones at least for a while. For some of them this may be the last time they ever return to their homes.

As Christians we dedicate the month of May to our heavenly Mother Mary. We honor her with meditating on her life in the mysteries of the rosary. As we do that let us also make some time to reflect on our relationship with our own mother on earth. Do we love her like Jesus loved his mother?

When you have been blessed with a loving, nurturing mom, you should celebrate her every day. Do not wait for a circle on your calendar. A true mother is a divine gift and should be treated as such year-round.


Dr.Chris Anthony

No one in the world can take the place of your mother. Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right. She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones."

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother." Abraham Lincoln

"The mother is everything?she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses his mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly." Kahlil Gibran


I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln

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