“I AM OLD and I accept the practicalities of what being old means.” This was the one and only statement that she made with reference to the problems of being an elderly person.
The practicalities included deteriorating eyesight and giving up some of her previous work positions in a charity for abandoned children she helped get started. Still, she remains informed and in touch with its work and the lives of many of her “children and grandchildren” nurtured through its ministry.
We have made seeing her again after 10 years one important stop in our itinerary in our holiday plans after reading a casual phrase in her regular Christmas letter that said that she hoped to see us “one more time”. This is not to be understood as a statement of despair but a fact which she acknowledges without bitterness or despondence.
We, as a family, made this journey of about 8,500 km to meet a person whom I regard as a living historian. It was a special privilege to visit her two-room apartment surrounded by antiques, some dating back more than 300 years, which one American visitor remarked was “a museum”.
Dagmar Bruzova spent her early 20s living under German occupation. She saw the tanks of the Red Army roll into her country twice and how it had to bloodily fight for its independence. These experiences taught her the importance of truth that can be spoken openly without fear of reprisals.
Yet I did not visit her for a history tutorial captivating though her experiences may be. We made the visit to see an old friend and maybe perhaps to bring her some cheer. However, instead of being a blessing to her, we felt that we were blessed when we left. Instead of feeling saddened, we felt heartened and even encouraged by her. It was as if I had a conversation with a living saint and a vibrant soul.
This meeting left me wondering how many precious stories are locked away in the minds of our elderly folks, just waiting to be told. How many important lessons of life are yet to be learnt? What made this meeting possible was not that there were only people wanting to listen and learn but also a storyteller like Dagmar.
She contrasts herself from a group of “widows” she meets weekly. She remarked that they always began by talking about their personal woes. Dagmar spares no time to dwell on self-pity. As much as she is willing to share about the past, she was also ever inquiring and wanting to learn about the present world.
Before leaving, I plucked up the courage to ask her how old she was. Without hesitation, she answered, “88 years”.
Seeing us oﬀ, she pushed into our hands some biscuits but we left with much more than that. We left with the blessing of her years well lived.
Benny Bong is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, is a family and marital therapist.
National Day celebration
Preaching Point, school extend love to neighbours
HOLLAND VILLAGE PREACHING POINT (HVPP) and ACS (International) celebrated National Day by inviting their neighbours, residents of Commonwealth Crescent, which comprises mainly one-bedroom rental flats, to a lunch at the school’s canteen on Aug 8.
The event was named National Day Event Just for Love 2010. Church members had knocked on every door in Blocks 103, 104, 106 and 107 to invite the residents or to leave behind invitation flyers for those who were not in.
Some 400 church members and Chinese, Indian and Malay neighbourhood residents turned up. Lunch boxes were served by students from ACS (International) while volunteers from HVPP mingled with the guests and ate with them. Children played with their fun packs filled with toys.
The festive air was enhanced by the music provided by the school’s string ensemble and a five-piece rock band.
After lunch, representatives from the 200 units in the four blocks were ushered to the Sports Hall and given vouchers worth $30 to take home.
All of them left for home happy and blessed, with smiles on their faces, knowing they were loved.
For us, we did it all Just for Love because He first loved us.
May Oon worships at the Holland Village Preaching Point.