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Why that mansion may be a burden

By Maria Famakinwa

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Mr. and Mrs. Imole Egbedi (not their real names) are in their late 70s, living at Oshinle, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, in a boys quarter’s room built over 25 years ago. What was surprising was that the couple, who have seven children (four males and three females) wished they had built a bungalow instead of the duplex they built.

Flashing back with nostalgia, Pa Egbedi, who will be 80 years next year, told The Hope in an emotion-laden voice, “Aging is a natural phase that every mortal must pass through. But it comes with emotional feelings that one cannot explain clearly. When I  look at my pictures back in the past and realised that I can no longer do many things I did then, I got a deeper meaning of vanity that no dictionary has explained.

“When my last child who was making the house lively got married, the mother and I wept, because nobody will keep us company and care for the house again. We then decided to relocate to one of the rooms at the boys quarters so that we can be communicating with our neighbours at the other compound, since it is closer to them.

Though my children often come with their families to check us but it’s not like when they were with us.  Even our plan to get a tenant if only to be taking care of the duplex has proved abortive because, to them,  it is old fashioned. Yet, it was one of the best when I built it. Since then, the main building has remained under lock and key, except when we want to take something there, and we struggle to climb the stair case.”

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The experience of Mrs Amope Edun, an 82 -year-old great-grandmother, was not different from Mr. and Mrs. Egbedi, except that she lost her husband, a cocoa merchant, 12 years ago, making her lonely in the four-bedroom flat built for them by their children, who are now in different countries and states.

She said, “You will not understand the meaning of loneliness until you experience it. When all my children got married, they decided to build a four-bedroom flat for me and their late father, because we could no longer maintain our two-storey building built by my husband, who was a successful cocoa farmer. We agreed and moved into the four-bedroom flat to save our health from further deteriorating, but my husband died a few years ago.

“Even in the four-bedroom flat, I am still lonely, except when any of my children or family members visit. Three domestic helpers have been employed by my children to take care of me, but they have left. Though a lady in the next compound prepares pap and vegetables soup for me, it cannot be compared to when you are agile and can do things yourself.”

On her advice for young couples and parents, she said that they should give birth to the number of children they could cater for, invest in them to be successful in the future and always create time to check their aged parents.

“This is important and profitable, because old age is unavoidable. Investing in your children is investing in your future. Let your children get education or learn skills that can sustain them in the future. Though building house is good, but it becomes obsolete as modernisation creeps in, with new building designs and technology. For instance, the two-storey building my husband built over 35 years ago was no longer habitable before we abandoned it. I am very sure that as technology advances, most of the buildings with beautiful designs we are seeing now will also become obsolete. That is why it is advisable to consider the future benefits of whatever design the building you are erecting now, so as not to regret later, because wear and tear will set in future and you will not have the capacity to maintain it,” she said.

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Sharing a similar sentiment, A 76-year-old retiree, Pa Oreofe Adekanye, who lived at Oke-Aro in Akure, also explained that he had never experienced loneliness until the demise of his wife three years ago. “All my five children are doing well in their marriages, they make it a point of duty to check me at least twice a month, but there is still that vacuum created by my wife’s demise which cannot be filled,” he said.

“Most times, I think about life, and it makes no meaning to me. I later realised that there are many things we are doing that are not really worth it. For instance, I keep blaming myself for the choice of three-bedroom flat I cannot maintain, when I should have opted for a self-contained, because I only make use of a room, even when my wife was alive. Other rooms including the toilets and bathrooms are left untouched. It never occurred to me that the joy I had then when I completed the three bedroom flat will later bring loneliness. Loneliness in the sense that when it is night, I am the only one in the whole flat. I have a domestic helper who comes daily to cook for me, but I can only eat little, despite having varieties at home.”

On what his experience had taught him about life, he said that life was temporal, and nothing was permanent, as he appealed to people to take things easy. “Even your children who are so close to you now become visitors in your house once they gain admission into higher institutions, because they will not have time sitting with you in the house again, except when they are on break and immediately they graduate, they do not wish to come back to their parents’ house again. They want to get jobs and start their own family. That is the reality of life.

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So instead of spending money to build mansions that you will not be able to sustain in the future, why not consider the little you can maintain when your children are no longer with you? These are the challenges confronting the aged that need to be addressed for the aged to be happy and live longer.

“Aged citizens need people around them always to interact with and keep them company. Some children because of this have rented apartment for their aged parents in buildings with many tenants popularly referred to as face-me- I-face-you. In fact, two of my friends are now living in this type of building, and they told me that it is better than living alone. Aged citizens need constant attention and care not from their children alone but also from those around them,” he said.

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Why that mansion may be a burden

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