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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Filial Piety - Must or Trust?

I can't remember the last movie which made me cry or even cried so much.
I was in for the unexpected when I watched Money No Enough 2 a few weeks ago, which was perceived as a comedy or a humorous movie and boy, was I wrong.

I am not going to write a review on the movie, no, that will be in my movie blog which still has a list of movies/series in the list to be reviewed.
This is rather more like a story which I want to tell and also, pen in my thoughts and words along the way. For those of you who have not seen the movie, my summarized story would be able to help you see what I am talking about.

I would like to highlight the key elements which I observed in the movie and also the relationship to our own lives.

The three brothers in the movie were all married with their own families and it was pretty normal yet heart-warming when you see that they have not forgotten their good old mother as they flock home to have dinner with her on weekends.
The eldest son was the main caretaker of the aging lady and was also one of lower income earning son compared to his two younger brothers.
Both younger brothers run their own businesses and live in luxurious houses.

When the mother was diagnosed with illness, a degenerating and degradation of her normal form with age (which could probably be Alzheimer's), that is where the roles and filial piety of the 3 sons are put to the test.
During the discussion among the 3 brothers, it was rather realistic when you watch them start off with a low-key discussion to rotate their rounds in caring for the mother and then ended up in loud bickering.
At the same time, they were trying to avoid being heard by their mother who was sitting alone watching television.
The wives chipped in once in a while to argue the rights of responsibilities and they assumed that the old lady was unknowing.
It was really disheartening when the old lady, with her burdening illness, had to pack and go about with a bag every 2-3 days to shift from one son's house to another and you can see she had to go on her own without anyone bothering to pick her up or escort her.
The worse was the type of welcome she received especially in the second son's house, who also happened to be the richest of all(although he had failed in his business that time and had to put up in a HDB flat).
Perhaps it is not right to judge him as that, as his wife was controlling the situation but then, as a son and a righteous man, he ought to stand up for his own mother if he wants to.

Letting the mother sleep near the washing area and right outside the toilet was rather heart-wrenching and disturbing.
I couldn't help those tears when I saw the frail and aged old lady making herself comfortable in the area.
Soon after, when the mother's condition worsens, they decided to argue about sending the mother to the old folks' home as none of them could afford to spend their time with the old mother, claiming that they had their work responsibilities, etc.
The eldest brother was appointed to be the escort to send the mother to the old folks' home and it was really disheartening to watch how the poor old mother was unsuspecting and when she start to realize, the son ran away while she cried for help and refused to go into the home.

When she fainted and was admitted into the hospital after the drama, the eldest brother yelled and blamed his two brothers for what befell the mother.
While the mother fell into coma, the brothers were forced into another dilemma on whether they should end their mother's life as they could not afford the medical fees of her prolonged stay in the hospital.
The eldest brother was dead against the ending of the mother's and wanted to continue to bear the exorbitant prices of the mother's hospital stay.
He continuously blamed his younger siblings for their materialistic ways which landed their only mother in this place.
Initially, the brothers came to the consensus to let it be, but soon, they had to confront the truth that their mother's condition is not getting any better but worse and something had to be done.

The costs of her stay in the private hospital was too much to bear; especially when all 3 brothers have come to terms with their financial crisis after the failure of their respective businesses and career paths.
The mother had to survive on the blood bags which kept her alive, and since her blood type is rather rare, the hospital would soon run out of it.
It was really a pain to see the sons arguing among themselves who should donate blood to their mother.
And when Stella, the 2nd brother's only daughter was involved in a serious car accident on the same night the mother was to have a blood transfusion, it was a huge dilemma when they came to decide who should have the remaining blood.
The 2nd brother was fighting hard with his other two brothers who refused to budge and insisted that the blood is to be reserved for their poor old mother while the frantic second brother and father, had no choice but to snatch the blood bag with his wife to be donated to their daughter who was in a critical condition.

At the point, their sick mother woke up and with tears upon hearing them fight over the blood, she drastically pulled the tube of her main support to end her life immediately.

I must have cried buckets when I watched this movie and I found that the whole notion of this movie was far from being funny; in fact it had a very thought pondering value which is put to question when it comes to different situations.

I've had conversed with my parents and even they said that it was truly a hard decision when it comes to deciding between your mother and daughter on whose life to save in this kind of situation.
At the same time, the taking care of the mother part; especially when she is dependent should not be judged based on how filial the children are as everyone has their own difficulty and story to tell.
However, my dad is right though about one thing and this is something that I always quote him as saying, "A single parent can bring up 10 children; but 10 children can never take care of 1 single parent"

So harsh but yet so true.
Look at the whole story; how much has the mother sacrificed for her own sons
When they were in financial difficulties and they went to their mother asking for help, she selflessly digged out her own savings from an old biscuits tin; knowing that it's her only financial source left and gave them to her.
She was even still worried about whether her savings are enough to help her sons in solving their crises.
Yet when the mother is sick, the sons had to wonder whether it's worth their time to take care of the old lady.

How accurately it relates to the younger generation these days too!
When we are kids, whenever we see something we want badly, we tell Daddy or Mummy about it and they will just nod their head and fish in their pocket for those notes that sent the gleam in our eyes when we know we can have the book/toy we wanted so much. Yet when they are old and depend on us to support them financially, whenever we give them their monthly allowances, we always remind them to use it wisely or sparingly as we are 'running tight for the month'
How superficial!
Remember my daddy's quote?
In those olden days, even in financial crisis, the father will always be the sole breadwinner and still struggles to make ends meet.
(Of course, there are also stories about how some couldn't make it and end up having to give away their own flesh and blood to wealthy families to ensure their better upbringing)

Think about it?
How many times have people these days turned away from their parents and not return the deeds of their parents; the people who have brought them into the world and made them in who they are today?
Are you a President, CEO, doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer, etc because you are born to be one?
Without the funded education, will you still be one today?

To all the parents who have done their job in spending time with their children during their childhood and growing years, CONGRATULATIONS, you're definitely the pride and you are great people!

To be fair, there are also some parents today (sadly) who chose careers and monetary factors over their own children. These are the people who can't complain when their children ill-treat them in the future.
I have heard of a case whereby the son sent the mother to the old folks' home and when she sobbed her heart out over her son's responsibilities in caring for her in her old days, her son just looked at her and said, "You haven't cared for me when I was a kid either. You sent me to the babysitters' and Day Care centers. So I am just doing the same thing you have done to me"

How sad but true!

I believe that it all starts from trust; this is definitely not a question of compulsory actions which you must do and how you will be penalized if you were to ignore what you intend to do.
However, those are only the 1% as I believe all parents are great and care a great deal for their children; wanting only the best for their children.
But ask yourselves this, do you really think the same way about your parents?

When you have your own families, are your parents a big deal to you anymore?
If you say yes, answer the following questions frankly; with full honesty from the bottom of your heart:
1. Are you willing to fork out a few thousand or thousands for your parents? (be it medical or life support, etc)
2. If your parents happen to be sick; as in a really serious condition whereby they need full attention (for instance, their bowels and motion sicknesses which cannot be controlled) and you need to be there to clean up for them, will you do it without grumbling?
3. If you find that you have a packet of blood left, and your wife/kid and your parent(mother or father) need it at the same time; in the same critical condition, will you find yourself giving the blood (without hesitation or second thought) to your parent?

These are all heart-wrenching questions and yet, they are as far as they go in reality.
I am not questioning anyone's will to be a filial son or daughter, but there are lots of subjective and gray areas which are equally realistic as well.

But I still do agree with my good ol' Daddy's words, "A parent can take care of 10 kids, but 10 kids can never take care of 1 parent"

It's all about your conscience and the trust from your parents when it comes to taking care of them.
I bet they never wanted to bring trouble to us when they grow old; who doesn't like the idea of aging gracefully?

Just listen to your conscience and I hope we do not have anymore of bitter cases.
Another recommendation; Money No Enough 2 is definitely worth a watch....it brought back great memories and values to my mind and heart.
And I want to be a great daughter to both my parents....

I think that the movie will be even more touching if they included scenes of how the mother brought them up and the hardship she went through during their childhood.

Thank you Daddy and Mummy, for your hard work, I am sure it was not easy and thank you for all the times you have stood by me and doubted me.
I will never forget and I pray to the great Lord Almighty for the peace and wonderful family relationship we have and will always have!