The other day, I was having a discussion with my husband about whether parents should relocate themselves with their kids once they are old. I know, you must be thinking, what’s there to discuss here; this is obvious; it is the right thing to do and ethical too.
Exactly! This is what I said to my husband. But then he said something which made me think all over again. Before telling you what he said, I will tell you the incident which led to the beginning of this whole discussion.
It was an occasion of Ram Navmi (An Indian Godly festival). We went to a temple in London for sacred offerings. While our way back home, two ladies crossed our way to go in the temple. One lady was in her fifties. The other lady was very old and must be in her eighties and was walking with support aid. She was feeling tired of walking even a few steps. The younger lady was motivating her. As we passed by, she said, and I quote, “Do not worry mom, you can walk; it is just like a Vaishno Devi shrine where we use to go”. Vaishno Devi is a Hindu shrine of Indian goddess temple being built in beautiful high mountains of Jammu & Kashmir and is the holiest shrine. People believe that it is pious to visit Mata Vaishno Devi, at least once in their lifetime. The Holy Cave of the Goddess is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft and the Yatris undertake a trek of nearly 12 km. They complete the trek either by foot or on the mules. It is a long and tiring journey, but devotees are too motivated to feel any tiredness. The younger lady was trying to motivate the elderly by relating the present-day temple visit to that of Vaishno Devi from back India.
While listening to their conversation, I abruptly said, “this is the right thing to do; old parents should live wherever their kids are settled.” To this, my husband disagreed bluntly. According to me, the lady was doing her humanly job of taking good care of her parents in old age. They have relocated her here so that she can have a relaxed life. But according to my husband, they missed one part; the old lady has spent 80% of her life in her own country, and at this stage of life she needs more days of emotional happiness than practical comforts. And there is no scope of intelligent argument here.
It is now a trend in India that children are settling themselves in other countries, especially Europe and the US. They are finding life more comfortable and manageable in these countries as compared to their own country. And when it comes to the concern of taking care of their old parents, they are happy to relocate them to their countries as well. According to them, they should spend their last years of lives in a more comfortable environment. Is it? That is what my husband said.
He said, who are we, the young generation, to decide comfort on behalf of our ailing parents. He added, there might be some advanced facilities, health benefits, home comfort in these countries, but at the fag end of life, old parents want to be surrounded by people whom they have known since ages, including their children, of course. We as a generation are getting more practical in making decisions, including the choice of relocating our parents to a new land of extremely different culture and language. But when in the old age, one’s body and mind become incapable of thinking logically, you cannot give them happiness merely with materialistic comforts; they need more emotional satisfaction. And if you fail to do so, you will get sad souls. It is irrelevant to argue about right and wrong with the oldies. They are just not in the state of understanding this. Because now they are thinking with their hearts instead of the brain.
I heart what my husband said. And I also admit that sometimes the relocation is the only option when there is no one to take care of the parents. But leaving this particular case aside, I am still in a dilemma. Should I support the ethical consciousness of young kids settling in foreign lands or the elderlies who have already done enough for us without any expectations? Hope you can pull me out of this.