The great Islamic theologian and founder of scepticism Al-Ghazali said that the best way to live is to always have death as the foremost thought in our mind. Death brings life back into perspective. It helps us decide the important from the not so important.
A friend's grandfather passed away recently.
The news got me thinking of my own childhood and recollections of my grandparents. Unfortunately, I never really had the privilege of getting familiar with any of my four grandparents.
I remember my maternal grandmother as a frail old lady who hardly moved from her bed. I could not have been more than a few years old at the time of her death. My family lived in a different city from her and hardly interacted. When she passed away her death was not a major tragedy for me.
My paternal grandmother's passing away was my first exposure to death.
I remember wondering why everyone in our house was crying. Someone told me that grandmother had gone to heaven and we will not be seeing her anymore. Pray for her.
As a child, the death of both grandmothers' did not seem important.
Having seen grandparents 'at play' with their progeny, I now understand that I missed a precious experience. Unconditional love coupled with patience that is sometimes absent even from parents. (I guess parents are concerned with discipline.)
Age and experience does equate to greater wisdom.
Children surely benefit from being around older people. It is not that young parents are unskilled at parenting. Child rearing is an innate talent which humans have genetically developed over centuries. But there must be a difference between a mother in her 20s handling a child and an older woman who has done it all before?
There is a reality attached with being a developing nation, poverty and poor health care. Anyone who has visited South Asia will understand that reality. Despite significant economic progress in the last few decades, life expectancies are still low.
Singaporeans can legitimately complain about many things. One thing that they cannot complain about (or at least not too loudly) is the quality of domestic healthcare. It has pushed life expectancies up to first world levels within one generation.
Living into your seventies and eighties means that kids get a chance to play with healthy grandparents. To me that is important news.
Steve Tyler quitting Aerosmith is also news, but perhaps only important to Liv Tyler and her four year old son Milo!