A little girl of about 15 years old was perched precariously atop a motor bike with a little goat clutched in her hands and held protectively against her mid-section. But no, that was not the tear-inspiring part. Between the driver, the girl and the goat was
another passenger; a rather old and wizened woman who had to be the teenager's grandmother.
Granny was so old that her veins were spidery and very visible through the thin paper her skin had become. She had a completely grey head of hair and her eyes had lost the lustre of youth and become completely dimmed with age. She clung to the bike man with both hands childishly tucked underneath his armpits while her grand-daughter sat confidently behind her providing a human shield to keep her from falling off.
That same day, I walked into a restaurant and a man had taken his aged mother out to lunch. She was bent with age and her hands shook as she tried to carry each spoonful to her mouth.
He had ordered her a plate of jollof rice and some fried goat meat. Mama couldn't eat; she kept picking at the food like a bird and scattering rice all over the table. His eyes met mine over her head and we shared a speaking look and a grin. It was another nostalgic moment. When he was a child I would bet everything he was the one who had a small appetite and a tendency to spill his food.
Now the tables had turned. My eyes filled with tears as I watched him pick a spoon and proceed to feed his mother.
Nature always has the last laugh on all of us.
I couldn't help thinking, when we were kids if we ever had to board a bike we would be protectively wedged between the bike man and an adult. I'm willing to bet anything that this was probably the case a few years ago with the teenager and her grandmother but now she had gotten so old that she was the one in need of protective positioning. I am willing to bet the young man in the restaurant had done more than his fair share of spilling food in the past as a kid too.
The lesson? The dynamics of relationship in a family are always changing. As the age winds down, the parents who were once in the position of authority and in the position of protectiveness find themselves needing protection from their kids. As the age winds now the parents who used to be the breadwinners may have to depend on the kids who used to be the consumers.
The little child you bully today may wipe your ass tomorrow when you lose bladder control. The child you refuse to train today may be the reason you have a roof over your head tomorrow.
Life is fickle; age comes with vulnerability and makes the adult a child. So use your time wisely and help those weaker than you.
The child of today will be a parent tomorrow. The parent of today will be a child tomorrow. It's a circle, so whatever end you find yourself, play your part with a good heart, a kind smile and an eye on tomorrow.