In a talk I was asked to give in an Asia-Pacific forum on experiential sharing of care giving practices for Older Persons in the Philippines, I culled my data largely from my own clinical practice and loosely from the scarce literature I was able to scour from equally limited sparse library shelves .
Because of the diaspora of Filipinos going out of the Philippines to work abroad, they leave behind their aging parents to the care of other family members. The top primary caregiver would invariably be the spouse, who himself is an older person, himself, most of the time, a patient. Then comes the unmarried daughter, be it the eldest or the youngest and other relations like a niece, a nephew or a cousin.
Sometimes, it would be the untrained household help or even the neighbor.
But neck to neck on top of the list along with the spouse is the daughter in law.
In an interview with one who resigned from her work as a nurse to care of her mother in law with Alzheimer’s disease, she reasoned that she was doing this – this superhuman act of caring for her mother in law was because the patient had been a most supportive and gentle person she knew. But above all, out of her great love for her husband.
My own mother in law passed away in December last year. I never had the chance to care for her the way my patients had been cared for with all the genuine compassion, affection, infinite patience and love that I see among daughters in law that come to me. My own brothers in law and sisters in law, my husband included, have always been a most caring and loving nuclear family.
I am writing this post however in honor of daughters in law, here and those I met elsewhere – that to some degree, in my clinical practice, you’re my ‘hero’.
As an aside, a lesson to be learned for future mothers in law is to be kind to the woman your son wants to spend the rest of his life with. For when the time when you get old, when you will have become a fallen tyrant, it is your daughter in law who will likely take care of you.