For most of my agemates, our parents are in their third age. This is considered the golden age between 65 and 80 years old. We often find ourselves parenting our parents in this season of our lives. Roles often reverse. We are more accommodating of our parents. I’m not sure if it’s because they have mellowed or we have matured. Maybe we are beginning to see ourselves in them because we are young but not too young. I even have a close pal (and agemate) who is a grandfather. That’s a strong reminder that I’ve been around for some time.
Since corona struck my family and I have not gone back to attending physical church on Sundays. We watch the online service at home so Sundays have become the full niggaritis day. It will take a lot of effort to resume Sunday services physically but we will have to especially for the children’s sake. They miss their pals plus it helps to start to work on that relationship with sir God at an early age. He’s often that life jacket you need when life manenos threaten to drown you. Mummy shark and I feel strongly about this so tutarudi.
Last Sunday my after 40 baby, Bobo accompanied me to Karen country club to pick the pictures that remained from my second photo exhibition. She’s good company plus cheap labor too he he. Ice-cream or mandazis are fair wages for her. On the way back home, we decided to pass by my folks’ place to salami them. Bobo is particularly fond of her grandfather so I knew it would make both their day seeing each other.
The beauty of old age is the simplicity of life, at least from observing my parents. Being a Sunday I was certain that we’ll find them home. Add the fact that in these COVID-19 times they are considered to be in the vulnerable group. They only move when they have to. As expected, we got there and it was a joyous time. The Sunday mandazi and tea was such a treat that bobo decided to carry some as her break time snack the next day in school.
We caught up with the folks for some time then dad asked to be excused to attend to something outside. Mum then asked us to take her to her home office next door. She produced a brown show box with my name on it. I wondered what that was. She handed it to me saying it was a gift from dad. I opened it and inside were these brown leather shoes. That caught me off guard. I didn’t expect anything like this. Mzee joined us a short while later and I thanked him. He said he was at the nearby mall and saw the Bata shop had a sale on. He got in to buy a pair for himself and was told he can get an extra pair for half the price. He decided to pick one for me.
I was touched by the thought. That action was a sneak peek into my father’s heart. I do not doubt his deep care for me (and his entire family) but I felt like our hearts communicated. Like he was telling me that he may not show a lot of affection or say much (as is the norm with men of his generation) but he’s still got my back now as he did when I was a small fellow sitting on his lap.
My parents brought up my siblings and me the best way they knew how. We in turn are required to go one up and parent better than they did. After all, we have more resources and information (sometimes it feels like too much information though) available to guide us in our parenting journey than they did. Mum has often reminded me to copy only the good in her and Dad and ignore the rest. That’s advice I want to pass on to my baby sharks. Because their parents are also imperfect humans.
Bobo and I left our (urban) shags at 5 pm. On the drive home, all I could think about was that act of kindness from my old man. I found myself apologizing for all the times I may have judged him harshly thinking I can handle some situations better than him. It became apparent that I may have a huge blind spot as far as my folks are concerned. Do I take the time and put in the effort to understand their view on an issue or life in general? Have I missed opportunities to learn from them because of my mjuaji nature sometimes? how can I tap deeper into their wisdom now that I still have an opportunity to?
That evening at home as I put my clan to bed, I felt slightly inadequate. Have my baby sharks suffered from stereotypes I may have applied to my parents? how much has my ‘I know more than you’ attitude affected them and probably mummy shark too? maybe I would learn more from my dad and his grandchildren if I approached them with a posture of learning. Maybe that’s why we were given two ears and one mouth. To hear twice as much as we speak.
Those shoes from grandpa shark awoke the feelings my bro and I had many years ago when we would be bought Lawman sneakers. Just like back in the day, I’ve worn those shoes three days in a row this week. I guess the kid in us never leaves. It’s been a good feeling. Even if I now have a family of my own to take care of, my mzee still covers me in a special kind of way. I went to sleep validated and feeling less guilty. Bobo sealed it when she called me to kiss me goodnight. I figured most of us are doing all we can to be better children and parents and that’s enough for now.
Folks let’s appreciate our parents and senior citizens. Their wisdom never runs out of fashion. We will be all the better if we borrow the lessons they’ve learnt from years of being around much longer than us. It’s like having leakage for the exams of life. Our children will benefit too.
Asante for the shoes daddy, I almost slept wearing them like I once did in primary school he he.