Once an ardent devotee of Paramacharya lamented to the Great Sage about how his prayers remaining unanswered by Goddess Meenakshi. The Sage replied " Never suspect your mother's intentions. When you were newborn, did she feed you, keep you clean and healthy because you asked her to do such things? Till you became old enough to think for yourself and make demands on her, you had completely entrusted yourself to her care. And when you started making demands as a groiwn up child, she conceded only such demands which in her judgement were good for you and declined the rest.. You even got angry with her and hated her whenever she declined your demands though such feelings were momentary. To our Goddess we are all children in a cradle. Leave yourself completely in Her. She knows what to give and when to give. Only She knows what is good for us" I have referred to this episode to focus on the role played by our mothers in shaping our lives. It is highly significant that the Paramarcharya has likened our mothers to Goddes Herself in order to explain the relationship between God and Man. What more need I say? A few days back a question was raised by Priya on Old Age Home or living with children. I went through the thread and the FBs carefully and as a man who has seen 64 summers, I have a few thoughts to share with you all and for convenience, I have decided to present it through my sub forum. There is a well-run Old Age Home near my residence in Chennai called 'Vishranthi' I visit the Home regularly to interact with the aged residents there who are mostly ladies. I even arrange regular musical concerts and bhajans for them. Mrs. Savithri Vaidyanathan, who is in charge of the Home , spares no efforts to make the lives of the inmates as comfortable as possible. The ambience of the Home is very good and the food tasty and easy on the digestive system of the old people. At a first glance, anyone would think that there is nothing for anyone to complain about. But the truth is different. I have interacted with most of the ladies and found that what they need is not living in comfort or good food. They need people to share their feelings particularly when they are in a nostalgic mood. They need people to talk to and be with. One lady even told me once that she always looked forward to my visits not for the gifts but only for the time that I could spend with them.. i talk to them about their childhood, their children and their present life. The way they unwind leaves me deeply moved everytime. The standard question that everyone asks me is that whether I could communicate with their children and find out how they were. My mother is 95 and is living with me since 1965. She is almost crippled, a tiny bundle of bones, severely restricted in her movements but with a keen memory and is well aware that a call from above might come anytime. She is in deep thought most of the time though no one knows what is going through her mind. She is unaware of the various complications of modern life and the only question that she keeps asking everyone is "Did you have your food?" though our own minds would be far from food being besotted with greater problems of life. To her I, a grandfather of three, am still a toddler in cradle who needs to be fed regularly and on time! But what stirs me to my very core is the way she comes alive and her eyes sparkle like the brightest stars of Heaven when she beholds her great grand children returning from school. I can clearly see what joyous feelings fill her heart on this daily reunion with the great grandcildren and how grateful to God she feels for this blessing. My mind races back to the time when as a toddler I used to be carried by her to the school in spite of the fact that I was tall and strong enough to walk on my own! I remember how she used to keep awake well past midnight when my brother and I prepared for our exams as a moral support. She was not literate enough to teach us our lessons but she did whatever that was possible for her. During my difficult childhood days, when my father had to struggle to make both ends meet, she saw to it that my brother and I never felt the ramifications of poverty and kept our stomachs full sacrificing her own food. I can never think of a way to show her my gratitude adequately and hence am extremely thankful to God that I have the means to keep her with me in a happy frame of mind. The sparkle that I see in her eyes when she is with her great grandchildren is the only consolation that I have of being able to pay my debt of gratitude albeit marginally. I know for sure that this what is keeping her alive. If I had left her in a old age home, she would have possibly died a decade back. Coming back to the Old Age Home, I agree that the modern life style and the need for most of us to migrate to far off places to make a decent living make it imperative to find an alternative for our parents to carry on with their lives. Old Age Homes are very handy too but when you are forced to take that step, make sure that you are in constant touch with them. Have someone locally to visit them regularly to apprise them of your well being. Maybe give them a mobile phone and talk to them as often as possible. Let them continue to feel your presence through these means. I know of cases in Vishranthi where the children have left a small amount of money with the Home for the cremation of their parents should they die before their children's next visit to Chennai is due probably during the Music Festival! I was appalled to see a letter from one such insensitive person saying that it would be highly impossible for him to fly back home for the cremation and it would be enough to keep him informed of any such eventuality. Please remember that the human cycle is not totally independent of what preceded us or what will come after. Even when Saddam Hussein was hanged, the humanity rose in revolt against the indignified way he was hanged. Dont we owe more to our parents?