Being there to help is what really counts

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Published 24/11/2015 | 00:00

michael commane
michael commane

Research carried out by Trinity College Dublin's longitudinal study on ageing (Tilda) has found that lights at pedestrian crossings change too quickly for the majority of older people.

 The study found that 31 per cent of people aged between 65 and 74 do not have enough time to cross the road while the green light is on. And for people over 75 this increases to 71 per cent.

I can imagine if you are under 65 it's unlikely that you have any interest in Tilda's findings. Why would you? Maybe you are looking after an elderly or infirm person in which case such a statistic might cause you to give it a fleeting glance.

I got the Travel Pass in April and since then I have become more aware about everything to do with age and infirmity. But no matter how touchy I get there is nothing I can do about growing older. I have no intentions of saying 'growing old'.

It would probably be frowned on by educationalists but my introductory remarks the first day to new pupils in class was that the only thing I knew for certain about everyone in the classroom was they we were all going to die. It seems like yesterday since I started out teaching so when I meet people these days in their 50s whom I taught I simply can't believe it.

It's easy to moan and groan about so many things. Right now I have to stop in my step and realise that I am healthy. But what's around the corner? I have no idea. Even to ask the question is a whole new reality. Up to recently I would never even have thought of such an eventuality.

In our 20s, 30s, 40s, even 50s it is beyond our little minds to think about mortality, that is, if we are in good health. What must it be like for people who suffer serious illness, people who are struck down in so many different ways and left paralysed for life? What at all to say to people who are in insufferable pain? And it's so easy to dole out clichés and niceties but surely it's only when it touches ourselves do we ever get any idea what it must be like.

A man I know, who is in his early 50s had major surgery on his back last week. It is his third operation in an attempt to relieve him of chronic pain. The suffering he has been experiencing is unbearable. Imagine the nonsense it would be to tell him to 'offer it up'?When we are confronted with such pain and suffering surely we must be tempted to appreciate good health but also fight our damnedest to make sure that we all take good care of the sick and elderly.

Since getting the Travel Pass I find myself looking around the bus and observing those who are old and have difficulty getting on and off. Yes, in many ways we have made great strides. Buses now accommodate wheelchairs and buggies. Those green pedestrian lights are no problem for me. I'm not yet in Tilda's 31 per cent. But in the meantime I could help make life more bearable for people who are old, sick and fragile.

I have had the good fortune to see how children can care for their elderly parents. Parents, who dedicate their lives to their children, especially when they are ill. It's inspirational. It's easy to talk the talk but walking that road of pain and suffering is another matter. Being there to help is what counts.

Wexford People

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