Saturday, October 29, 2016


A fellow school parent volunteer posts up a photo on Facebook. I seldom pay attention to these things, but this one caught my eye because she had taken a wefie with an old lady who is a familiar face in my parent’s neighbourhood.

Accompanying the photo, she wrote: A strange 81-year-old lady stopped my car while I was at the red light. I gave her a lift home and brought lunch for her. Listening to her life story makes me sad. She has lived alone for 50 years, her children are overseas and the one child here only visits her once a month. Let’s teach the kids about the value of family relationships and we have to do better in spending quality time with our parents. I will visit this old lady again.

It appears a case of a little old lady who has been abandoned by her heartless children, and a compassionate stranger coming to her rescue.

Why didn’t her neighbours do so?

We’ve known this old lady for years. Thin and nut-brown, she makes a regular appearance walking up and down the street in T-shirt, shorts and slippers, knocking on our gates to order us (or our visitors) to remove our cars if its parked alongside the kerb fronting her house. She has a radar which enables her to identify cars, their owners and which houses they are headed to. She’s left rude notes, she’s scratched stranger’s cars, she’s thrown her rubbish onto the cars.

The entire neighbourhood, despite it being a rather isolated community with minimal communication, is wise to her ways. Perhaps it’s the maid communication network. On weekends when a ton of cars are parked willy-nilly along the road (as houses seem popular gathering spots), the only unsullied two-lane strip is outside her house.

I suppose there’s nothing wrong in wanting to protect your view.

But it simply struck me that as neighbours who only know her as such, we are perhaps blind to the perspective of her being a lonely old lady in need of help.

And to my friend who comes in as a Samaritan swooping in to the rescue, clucking about unkindness in the world and puffing with righteous indignation, she may be blind to other abrasive facets of the old lady’s personality which could possibly have driven her own children away.

I always tell the kids - Always try to understand the other side before you accuse or take the high horse. And I write this here because the kids (at least two of them) seem to be learning from these posts.

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