Wednesday February 20, 2013
Love grows stronger in senior years
By CHEAH WUI JIA
MY motherís fingers are coarse from age, dish-washing, dough-kneading, years of diaper-changing, buttock-smacking, button-sewing, and tender cuddling. She sometimes asks me if her fingers look strange, knobbly and stiff as they seem to her. I tell her that wrinkled hands are a sign of wisdom, not just mere wizening old age.
At 59, my motherís fingers bear a unique history of stories that are hand-made, woven together by a resilience sharpened by hardship and toil, the thousand pricks of a sewing needle, the endless stirring of boiling pots with a ladle, and the crushing of garlic and chillies Ė daily rituals from a tender age. The lines that etch a face whisper a tale that is unique to the individual. I do not romanticise old age for the fun of it. I can still remember how my parents looked when they were in their prime, with their glossy hair and smooth, unmarred skin.
I have watched them fight, cry, laugh, love and grow as a couple. I have seen them renew their marriage vows each day through reconciliation, grit and forgiveness. I can say, with much conviction, that the setting sun is just as glorious as the rising orb.
The beauty and health industries are busy cashing in on our pursuit of youth. There are all kinds of creams and supplements in an attempt to erase the years and spots. But our bodies grow old despite our relentless efforts to lie or deceive.
Marriage has oftentimes been mistaken as a romantic adventure. But I kid you not; marriage is the hardest thing I have ever seen. It is not for the faint-hearted, the weak-willed, the dreaming fool or the impetuous individual. However, if done well, it makes you age with a grace and beauty that youth, with all its raging hormones, cannot provide.
My parents love each other with more ardour than they did many years ago. And it is only because they have grown old together, seen each otherís wrinkles, failings, weaknesses and could still find it in their heart to love unconditionally.
My parentsí marriage do not in any way reflect the love stories that we see on television or in the cinema. But they hold hands (when no one is looking, of course) and my father listens patiently when my mother complains of her rough hands or her aching joints. My mother listens to him complain of his day at work. Now that they have more time on their hands, they enjoy the simple pleasures of life, such as eating breakfast in the coffeeshop or going for daily walks.
At night, they watch television together. They discuss the political situation in the country over meals. Sometimes, they snap at each other. But it is uncommon for either one to hold a grudge or maintain a hostile attitude for a long period of time. Love is not about spectacular moments. Oftentimes, it is in the mundane details of the day that love shows up.
The wrinkles and spots on our faces bear testimony to the fact that our bodies have survived many heartaches and battles.