Three nights ago, I told Adrian: “Im wondering if it is because I like older people that I hang out with you a lot or because I hang out with you a lot, I get to know many older people.” Last night and the night before, I met some people for the first time, and they didn’t know each other before either. The situations are the same, but since the people are different, I felt completely different. Last night and Monday night, I heard two stories, both about mother-children relationship; the situations are also the same, but yes, since the people are different, the stories goes two separate ways.
On Tuesday night, I and some Vietnamese friends went to a restaurant/bar for chicken wings. There were friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, so we ended up having some Canadians, some Vietnamese Canadian, and every one didn’t know everyone else, and it was hard to talk because of the loud background music. Very typical of a student’s night out. That’s how people develop their network, come to a get-together hardly knowing anyone. If it were 3, 2 or even 1 year ago, I would feel very uncomfortable. I would want to escape. But I am not myself then, so I didn’t feel bad not talking and laughing like others. I was quite comfortable in my silence, except that it was difficult to follow the conversation across the table. I came mostly because I was curious about a new friend, who is my age, coming from Vietnam just a few months ago with her Canadian husband. But a friend seemed concerned about my silence; he probably thought I was too quiet to have fun. Even though I didn’t hate myself for being there, that will never be my favourite way to meet people.
On Wednesday night, I went to a neighbour tea party. There were two students including myself, two young and four old people. Not everyone knows each other. We just sat down and talked, then later had tea with many sweets, like cookies, day square, chocolate bar, cake, etc. I didn’t talk much, mostly because I couldn’t contribute to conversations about driving, shoveling snow, traffic and pension. But it didn’t bother me and I enjoyed their company so much that I laughed my heart out and was totally fulfilled by their warmth. I have stopped asking myself why I always feel better to be around older people than those of my age. It’s not only because Im here, since even when I was in Vietnam, I already started a tendency to avoid crowd and have no interest in talking with the girls sitting near me in high school. In the bar, when a Vietnamese-Canadian came in with her friend, while introducing her friend to the rest, she skipped me because she hadn’t meet me yet, and her friend pointed at me: “I don’t know you”. Spontaneously, I replied with a shrug: “I don’t know you either.” The friend who concerned about my quietness also seemed to be irritated with my response. He urged me to: “Introduce yourself”. Since I had no desire to know her, no wish to maintain contact with her, no hope to be friend with her, introducing myself didn’t appeal to me as a natural reaction. He must have thought I lack basic social skills, maybe I really do.
Or is it possible that they are just not my type, and people can have their favourite type regardless of their age?
And the two stories about mother and children. One is Marg’s. She is 82, living in a nursing home now. When I visited her on Monday night, she told us (me and Adrian) that the cost is way too high for her. It is about 4000 a month and if she doesn’t move out, sooner or later, her savings will be empty. She would feel extremely guilty if her children have to chip in to pay for her and if she doesn’t have anything to leave them with when she dies. But it is not easy to find a suitable nursing home. The most affordable have a long waiting list. Some are too far, some are too expensive, and some have very bad reputation. I think her children want her to move closer to them, even if that just means another nursing home closer to them, but she has such a strong tie to the church community here that she doesn’t want to move. That makes sense, because for old people, church every week means more than a family she meets only once or twice a year. The second story is Helen’s. She used to host international students coming to Peterborough. So she would charge them a certain amount of money for food and room, and feed them. There was a guy from Korea, who lived with her for 8 months. But by the time he left, they both felt a strong bond to each other, as that of mother and son. So he kneeled down before her like he would do to his parents before he left Korea. Now he still calls her from time to time, and, this is important, he told her if she doesn’t have enough money for medicine or stuffs, he will take care of that. (She has a daughter, but her daughter is not very well-off and struggling with her own life).
So, the moral of the story is? A son, from other country, who just lived with Helen for 8 months, offers to pay for her medical costs. And three children, who Marg has worked hard to raise up, don’t do anything for her except leaving her feeling guilty if they have to contribute to pay for her nursing home cost. We haven’t known if they will contribute without complaining either.