by: Andy Maingam
Many sombre grandparents sit at home alone wondering if anyone actually cares anymore. Phone calls are few and far between, visits are even rarer, and when they do occur, the conversation is often shallow and semi formal. This communication frequently feels superficial to the one being visited. It's almost as if the visitors or callers are being inconvenienced through guilt as many are unable to express a genuine delight to be spending quality time with the elderly Kith and kin.
Somewhere along the line, a misconception has developed within Western societies that old folks are boring and somewhat of a burden to the younger working family members. This is felt and echoed by the aged who often comment on how they have become just that. A boring burden for both family and society who would be better off 6 foot under! Surely no old person should ever have to go through such feelings of self-reproach just because their heart dares to still beat!
This 'lack of caring' isn't evident in the East at all. Putting ageing parents and grandparents into special homes to be looked after by strangers, just isn't conceivable to those folks living in other parts of the world, especially if their elderly relations are still mobile and sane. So why is this approach becoming so commonplace here in the West? Is it because we no longer care, or just that it's convenient for us perhaps?
That age old saying which goes; 'You never know what you have until you lose it, and once you lose it, you can never get it back', is usually true. But when it comes to the olds, so many grandchildren nowadays don't miss their grandparents when they pass away, simply because they never took the time to get to know them when they were still alive! So in their mind's eye, there's nothing or no one to miss?
Estranged Families of the Twenty First Century
Is this modern-day estranged family really any good for the health of a nation? Is this lack of care and disrespect for our ageing population the way to build strong vibrant communities? Maybe communications technology is responsible for our growing lack in socialisation skills! Heck, some folks can live next door to each other for decades yet still know very little about their immediate neighbours.
Just 3 generations ago, people would be able to name all the singles and families residing in an entire street, and even a few more in the immediate neighbourhood. All this keeping one to oneself has a lot to answer for, yet no one really fully understands how or why this dysfunctional existence has evolved in today's Western societies.
Of course, not all families are alienated or at odds with each other, and of course there are pockets where community spirit and friendly interaction is evident nationwide in most countries. Even so, the fact of the matter is that this trend of alienation both within the family unit and the community as a whole is on the increase.
If we keep going in this wrong direction, all the stories of the future will be based on places, things, and fictional characters, with very little to write about real people. Individuality, personal achievement, and a genuine love for our fellow man will disappear forever, and all those wonderful things that separate humans from animals will be no more.
Is Technology Dividing a Wedge between us?
The ever expanding role of communications technology is certainly playing its part in replacing the real world with the fantasy one, aka the virtual world. What will become or humankind's care and compassion once our only friends are robots and holograms? Is it perhaps now time to think seriously about how we live our lives in the twenty-first century and change the direction before it's too late?
Writing a biography is not as daunting as you might think. Here is a simple example an amateur piece written by a Daughter on the life of her Mother. The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason, born in Meerut India 1910. This is just one example of how a piece of family history can be preserved in print to be enjoyed and treasured for this and future generations to come. If we let our ageing loved ones take their life stories to the grave, they will be lost forever, and that would be such a shame for any family clan, wouldn't it?