Freeman Cebu Business

Wearing your heart on your sleeve

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Romelinda Garces - The Freeman

This month of hearts is a good opportunity for us to be more demonstrative of those tender emotions we have.  It’s time to wear our heart on our sleeve! Oh yeah!

One way to do it is to vet on a volunteer program, or start one.  That looooong postponed advocacy that you may have been shelving and waiting for the right time to implement.  Considering the pandemic things may have to be done online or from a distance. 

A call to the home for the aged, setting up an interactive online- window to simply converse with the lonely and abandoned aged residents of homes for the old and destitute. 

Years ago, we visited an orphanage and home for the aged in Negros Occidental for one of our corporate projects and there was one old woman I particularly took notice of.  She had that stern demeanor of a principal, and her English was impeccable. 

Apparently, she took shelter in that home because she had no family. Being single, she had no children to care for her. And her siblings had their own lives, in other parts of the country.  She was not even sure if they were still alive. Then, cellphone calls were unheard of, and it was so expensive to make long distance calls so they had no way of communicating. No FB, twitter or whatever social media platform to even search for a loved one. She was lonely. Albeit her erect posture and seeming independence, her eyes showed her need for company. Conversation.  So we talked for a while. When we were about to leave, she held my hand and asked me when I would be back. I told her “possibly next month” to which she replied “that’s too far away”. And I just smiled, promising to myself, I would be back. 

I made plans. But I never really got to go back. I did not even have her address and have not even written her a letter which on hindsight I think would have made up for those lonely days of silence of just waiting…for her time. Talking on paper would have sufficed. Now I can only pray for her.  I don’t even know if she is still alive.  She must be resting now with God.

In another visit to another home for the aged, I noted an old woman facing the wall.  He soulful eyes had unshed tears as her wistful expression pointed me to what was on the wall.  It was a photo of a girl and a boy playing with a puppy. “Your family?” I asked. “My daughter and my grandson.” she replied.  I asked where they were and she said they were abroad. Then I noted her grandson was a mix of Asian and Caucasian. “Guapito” I said and she smiled as one tear fell on her cheek which she immediately dashed with the crocheted edge of her handkerchief. “He must be married now.” She said.  “They never came home. Nalimtan na ko ni Inday.” (My daughter has forgotten me) She said.  I just had to swallow the lump in my throat and tried to whisk her away from her reverie by asking her to join the rest of her housemates who were having fun with the games.

Momentary joys, simple, palliative.  Not really enough to heal the hearts of the lonely an there are so many lonely people there if only we take time to listen and care.

Now with the pandemic, things are even more difficult for those who are in shelters. Especially the old.  They are the most vulnerable and I can just imagine the burden of the healthcare workers who are taking care of them right now.  Having to deal with their own anxiety and giving comfort to their ward.

It takes a lot of heart. A lot of strength. So it furthers the need for more volunteers to put their heart on their sleeve and get involved.  In whatever little way. To assuage aloneness of the abandoned. 

Abandoned children may find a home with a family. But no one wants to adopt an old person whose issues may be so ingrained in every line of their skin. But like any of us, they too have to be cared for with quality time. 

They need someone to listen no matter how repetitive their stories are or how their jokes may lack luster, or how their stories never get finished as their attention drifts to something else.

Perhaps, you can choose to adopt one. Be their family. Make the visits. Write the letters.  Support the simple needs like diapers and milk. Oh yes, it all goes back to the basics. The cycle of life brings us all back to the embrace of God where we all were formed even before we were born.

Should you be interested, you may reach out to our Department of Social Welfare and Development office where they can provide you with a list of all the homes that would greatly welcome your visit and help.

Happy Valentines!

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