Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Old People’s Home in Bukit Timah Road

This morning I officially declared my house an old people's home. My 85-year-old parents have been living with us in our home for a month and a half, definitely raising the average age of the household. Then yesterday I discovered that my husband and I, having turned 50 last year, are eligible for a senior citizen's discount at Guardian, Singapore's major chain of pharmacies. And then my 85-year-old mother-in-law arrived for a visit this morning. That leaves only one young person in our home, that being our helper. (And wow, does she ever have her work cut out for her!)

First morning at the newly-declared Home was quite good fun. There is a general fascination for internal body functions and no subject is taboo. As we sat down to breakfast, my father complained of gas. My Ma-in-law said, rather philosophically, "Gas will go away." She advised him to walk it off, so he started walking up and down the dining room. (He couldn't go outside because it was raining.) Meanwhile, Ma-in-law promised us a special treat in the form of a "sad but very interesting story." Being wise to her meal-time anecdotes, I quickly consumed my toast, gulped down my coffee and settled down to listen to whatever might come. My husband was not so wise.

Ma-in-law now proceeded to tell us, in some detail, about the rotting body of a distant relative discovered three days after his death. My husband gave me a plaintive look, hand-with-toast frozen half-way to his mouth. I – having received my morning sustenance – smiled serenely and told him it was a new diet designed to turn him off his feed.

Lesson from Day 1 at the Home – As we grow older, we apparently shed a lot of our inhibitions, including those related to "polite conversation." I look forward to more "interesting" but hopefully not sad insights in the days ahead. I'm off to Nepal for 10 days tomorrow, but will resume the Journal of the Old People's Home in Bukit Timah Road later in the month. Watch this space, as they say. J