The young man in his thirties takes a deep breath. He is standing in the hallway of a bustling hospital, waiting for the elevator, where he has brought his mother for a doctor’s appointment. She is walking slowly with her limp, blocking the way of several young people who are hurrying to get into the waiting lines. Whenever his mother’s slow movement blocks passersby, their faces barely hide their impatience. Embarrassed, the young man looks down and avoids their eyes, while patiently bearing with his elderly mother.
Allah says: “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And spread over them humbly the wings of tenderness, and say: ‘O my Sustainer! Bestow Your grace upon them, just as they cherished and reared me when I was a child’.” (Qur’an, 17:23-24)
Sometimes, people compare weak old age to human infancy. They make comparisons about how, when a person grows very old, they need to be helped to sit up, fed mashed, bland food, and cooed and cajoled to eat like babies. Some may need to wear adult diapers at night, if their incontinence reaches an advanced stage.
However, the comparison may not be correct. No matter how hard it is for a new mother to take care of her baby round the clock, with nights providing little sleep and being on-call to change diapers or breastfeed at inopportune times, she has hope that this difficult phase will pass soon and that one day she will see her baby all grown up. She looks forward to the time when her baby will start to walk, talk and play. She knows that her tough initial motherhood duties will eventually lighten up with her baby’s growth and independence.