It was my first time last saturday to attend our saturday outreach program together with my fellow classmates. Before arriving at the venue, i thought that the whole place would most likely be a white rest house for the old people despite everything my classmates told me beforehand.
There i was, stepping out of the van of my friend, Dan and i saw the convent. We proceeded to enter the venue with little restraint. My classmate Alison gleamed with confidence and lead the way. As i walked through the corridor, i smelled the odor of alcohol and newly washed bedsheets and marveled at how clean the whole room was. I thought it would be dirtier. As i saw the elderly sleeping, eating and sitting on chairs, it gave me a certain anxiety and restlessness in imagining what they were thinking. Though how old and pale they looked like, they brought about an aura of acceptance of where they where, and the unfulfilled desire to explore the world. It felt as if they would be spending the rest of their lives in the convent. It was in a way, quite depressing, but as i participated in the chores, flipping beds and wiping them with alcohol mixed with water. I felt happy that if it were to be their final moments, that they would depart on a clean, modest and comfortable bed. What i like most about the elderly, is that when they smile, the years of gratitude and wisdom are manifested in that smile. Much condescending to the idea that someone who has lived longer, seen much more and experienced much more is passing on their thanks to you. When they say “Salamat” or “Thank You.” i feel heavy-hearted at how such simple words could so easily affect me.
I am not old, nor do i feel like the youngest person (though i am one of the youngest). I like old songs, classical music. Music doesn’t appeal to me in form of raps or dub steps, but more of the emotional factor. It is true that i liked Korean songs, but mainly because they are songs that speak to me even though i can’t understand them. Yes, as weird as it may sound, it just does. It never gets tiresome though how much i listen to classical music, with all the tempos and the chords, i just feel free. This helps me in understanding the certain value of silence that the elderly exhibit. I’m sure many people feel that silence is a bad thing, awkward pauses and stagnant conversations disrupt our confidence. Yet silence allows us to contemplate our thoughts, make important decisions and revel in the past experiences we created for ourselves. If ever they forego themselves into silence, then the only thing i can do is stay with them.
Aside from those moments of silence, we also helped in the upcoming christmas party that the nuns would provide for the kids in the convent, 600 chairs had to distributed, we didn’t reach that number. We only reached about 250+ chairs, instead we went to unpack all the juice packs and organize a work flow of unpacking and placing them into the cooler. It was a funny experience as we had to lift a 500 lbs cooler as i accidentally misplaced the cooler in the of the garage and had to lift it towards the stairs. It took about 6 guys to lift the whole thing, i hope i don’t commit the same mistake in the future.
We also hung some shirts on the 2nd floor so that we could dry them out. I wonder though if they have enough clothes to last through the week, I wish i could donate more if they needed. It was the least stressful job as we just had to hang the clothes and the bedsheets on the hangers. The only problem we encountered was not to let the clothes touch the floor and avoid them from becoming dirty.
I wish i could do more, if my schedule permitted it, maybe i could make 2 batches of puto the day before! Or maybe i could bring spare shirts that we no longer use anymore. Even if they barely speak, at least they can feel the love through the food we let them taste. I just hope that the next time that i visit this place, i can see the smiles and even the sad faces that realistically portray the world for those whose lives have lived throughout the century. 🙂