by Victoria Brewster, MSW
Every once in a while we read a book that has an impact on us. The book I just finished reading, ‘The Gift of Rain’ by Tan Twan Eng was such a book.
A boy of mixed European and Chinese heritage is trained by a sensei of Japanese heritage. This is not received well by the family. They all live on the island of Malaya which is British, but becomes overtaken by the Japanese in WW II.
The boy becomes a man and during WW II collaborates with the Japanese in order to save his family. Unfortunately, during the war, his siblings are all killed not because of him, but because they also chose to act/to do something; the brother joined the military, the sister shared information with the rebels, the father in the end chose to be executed to save his son, the one who was collaborating with the Japanese.
Later in life, the boy is now an older adult (senior) and is visited by a senior woman who knew his sensei. She is dying and wants to know more of the man she loved. Memories are shared between the two and a sense of peace occurs.
A quote that resonated with me from the book is, “That is what growing old consists of, mostly, one starts giving away items and belongings until only the memories are left. In the end, what else do we really require?” “Someone to share the memories with.” (pg. 336-337)
This quote just underlines the importance of any individual taking the time to listen to someone who is in their older years. For many seniors, their friends are not well due to various illnesses, diseases, hospitalization, homebound or they have died.
For an older adult in a nursing home, a residence or perhaps a lonely senior who attends a program or group, they may want you to just listen to them and share their memories.
Do this and you may feel a sense of peace as well.