Constance van Niekerk
Every Saturday, I try to visit an old age home down the street. The smiles of gratitude never fail to bring tears in my eyes. Traditionally, us black Africans never used to put our parents in old age facilities. Our grandparents lived in the rural areas. When they became too old, we would find a helper or a young grandchild to stay with them. We would visit them every school holiday and every Christmas. Christmas was truly a magical time back then. The entire family, and extended family would come together. There was plenty of bread (with margarine and jam😁). We had tea with milk, sadza nenyama yehuku (stiff porridge with chicken). Granny usually ‘killed’ a rooster, every year, there was always always a ‘Christmas rooster’, it was a tradition. This is Christmas past. The nights were just awesome, all grandkids would sit around the fire and listen to folktales from granny. This was then, when family was family. Your cousin was ‘my sister’. Whatever happened?
Now, our elderly people are living in old age homes. Most of us just leave them there and forget about them. I remember Valentine’s Day 2019. I and some friends decided to do something small for the residents of the old age home. We bought snacks and red roses. I thank God for the manager of Osbro Vereeniging. When he heard that the roses were for a charity event, he gave me a discount. God bless his soul. One of my friends and fellow poet Russell Anderson also came with his wife. We did some poetry and that day, I cried. They were so happy. Most have been long forgotten by sons and daughters. Day after day they hope that their families would visit, they wait in vain, it is heartbreaking.
I had wanted to do something with them every special day, but I never managed. Funds were not available to ever do anything with them again till to date. So, here I am, is there anyone out there willing to help make their Christmas special? They don’t need much, just a few snacks and a small gift each. They’re about 35 including the stuff. This is my Christmas wish, to spend with some elderly who have been buried by family while they still live.
Let me just clarify that, not everyone in an old age home is forgotten. Not everyone in this old age home is forgotten. But, there are some who don’t remember their families. They’re the forgotten. They’re the ones who need something special this Christmas.