It is my third time in Sunlove Home (a home for the dementia patients around the area) and every service I take away millions of thoughts and stories to share and questions to ask.
For a long time before I decided to step out of my comfort zone by volunteering with elderly/disabled, I have had a fear of interacting with the elderly and the disabled. I was uncomfortable with the idea of offering help and love and interaction to elderly whose position I barely understood, whose stories I can never relate to and whose dialect I struggle to understand. I cringed thinking about having to force the muscles on my face into a smile when being with the disabled evoked so much sorrow from me. And so I never thought that I’d grow to this day, when I actively chose to work at a service centre that combines both of my fears in volunteerism into a new challenge for me to tackle weekly.
The first time I served at Sunlove Home, I spent almost a little more than an hour in front of an old lady, wrinkled and discoloured skin, struggling to murmur her words through the lack of teeth and salivating between conjunctions in a dialect my grandmother speaks to me with. She held onto my hand tightly and she looked into my eyes as she sang to me her favourite chinese song, over and over again before proceeding to tell me how she got this bruise on her cheek. A story she repeated to me at least ten times in the duration I was with her, each time with the exact same extent of emotion, using almost the same words and adjectives. I was devestated.
Because the first thoughts that came to my mind were- Would I ever leave my parents or my grandparents in this position because they have a mental illness in future? Or would I pay a nursing home to take care of them because they were too hard to manage with their ‘condition’? It was devestating, also, because these elderly live in their memories that they held so dearly to their hearts and more often than not, these memories revolve around their families, their children and their grandchildren.
Today, history repeated itself and I felt a strong sense of deja vu as I sat alongside a red-headed old lady with the most beautiful blue bag that her daughter had bought for her. She introduced herself over and over and asked me about my family. We repeated the same conversation at least 8 times in 20 minutes.
Service in this place full of elderly with so many stories to share and valuable advice to offer has really given me food for thought and reminded me each time to show my parents and grandparents how much I love them a little more each day. I’m thankful for the lessons these elderly in Sunlove Home are teaching me.