Thursday, March 4, 2010

To Honour His Parents...


I remember making contact with an east Indian family back in Chatham. The parents were in their seventies and in failing health. They lived in an income-assisted housing development and they were having difficulties with the local Housing Authority. They had come to my law office. Something about some furniture acquisitions causing "the man" to take another look at their income disclosure.

I must confess that I do not remember their names, but their situation and their demeanour remains with me.

Their eldest son had come to facilitate the interview. He was in his upper thirties or young forties. Unmarried. Apparently on top of the situation of each family member. A middle daughter was married and having some difficulty with the husband. The youngest daughter was in college and living away from the parents, She apparently was the one most distanced from the old cultural ways of the east.

In a subsequent interview I learned that the son had left a lucrative engineering position near Detroit with one of the auto-makers in order to take hold of the situation for his parents and effectively fulfil the role of head of the family for his ailing father. Immediately his standard of living had taken a sizeable dip... but no matter, this is the way of family in the east. (This was their culture. They were a Christian family.)

In our discussion I expressed my admiration and surprise at his sacrifice.

He responded, "Not a sacrifice, but an honour. For so many years my father carried the load. If it is my turn now, so be it. I still have some time to myself and my interests. Let me tell you the situation of another acquaintance back home. Equally educated, but with a blind father. Each day he acts as his father's eyes. Much like a guide dog. This he does without regret or embarrassment. It is just our way."

We in the west could never submit to such a "way", yet we consider ourselves the more civilized. Makes one pause and think.

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