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Primary_The 70-year

The 70-year-young, Mrs. Iyer

There are days when you just feel so grateful for the life you have. For me, today’s one of those days.

Since the time I was a kid, I always wanted to be in a profession where I could contribute and make an impact. Where I could help and be of service. Because I’ve always felt that there are so many people in the world who could do with some love and support. One of the reasons why I chose to be a caregiver with Sakhi4Life.

But in the last 6 months, life has taught me another way of looking at things. I was assigned to Mrs. Rekha Iyer (name changed on request), a 70-year-old senior, who had been diagnosed with initial symptoms of Parkinsons. I was mentally prepared to take care of all her needs and had read up all I could about the disease. But I have to admit… when I finally met her, she wasn’t the person I had imagined in my head.

With a bright smile and a twinkle in the eye, Mrs. Iyer greeted me with a warm hug. Before I could gauge the situation, I had a glass of fresh coconut water in front me and the aroma of dosas making its way from the kitchen. For a moment, I was wondering if I was at the right home. But that’s just how Iyer aunty is.

Of course, she had difficulty moving around, holding or lifting things, deteriorating fine motor skills and so on. But that doesn’t stop her from being the amazing person she is. Whether it means making special sweets for her neighbourhood kids during festivities, or being the philosopher and friend to other seniors from her jogger’s park group, or singing to her grandkids over a video call, Rekha aunty is someone who’s always full of life… curiosity…ready to laugh, and make you laugh.

Yesterday was my birthday. And Rekha aunty gave me something I would never forget in my life. Before I was about to leave for home, she rolled her wheel-chair towards me and asked me to sit near her. Patting my head lovingly, she handed me her personal pair of ghungroos as my gift. I don’t know how she found out that I was learning classical dancing. Obviously, I was in tears. Both of us were.

That little gesture made me realise something important that day. As caregivers, we always think that we’re there to care for and serve the so-called ‘needy’. But souls like Rekha aunty prove that in reality, we’re the ones who receive more than we could ever give. Because they are the ones who teach us what it means to truly care, to love, and to live.