Widowed Mothers: Deserted to Die!
Real Life Incident: A Horrific Tale
On 21 April 2017, Geeta Kapoor (58) didn't find anything amiss when her choreographer son called for an ambulance and rushed her to a private hospital for treatment falling blood pressure. But more than a month later, as the hospital failed to contact her son to take his mother home, after clearance of pending payment of Rs. 1.5 Lakhs, her darkest fear had come true that her son had abandoned her.
SRV Hospital in Goregaon was in a total chaotic state when Mrs. Kapoor was fit for discharge, but had no one for payment and sign the discharge papers. The hospital sought help from police to trace her son and cough out pending payment of Rs. 1.5 Lakhs or find an alternative for her, which could be sending her to Old Age Home.
The doctor informed that after the old lady was brought in an unconscious condition. "After admission formalities got over the son enquired if the deposit has to be paid. He left the hospital on the pretext of looking for an ATM and never returned. Since that day, no one from the family has asked for her." said the doctor in charge of the ward.
While such incidents are normal in Government or Public hospitals, but very rare in private hospitals. The doctor further confirmed that the lady was in bad condition at the time of admission, as she was clearly undernourished. Her BP was low and she was surely not well fed.
More surprises were restored for the hospital when they visited the hospital to look for the son. The neighbours confirmed that they had rented that apartment three months back and had vacated within hours of sending the mother to the hospital.
The hospital even tried to contact her daughter, allegedly an air hostess and her daughter-in-law, but no response.
Police confirmed that they cannot shift the lady to old age home or a public hospital if her biological relatives are alive. No one wanted to take the risk for taking such action, with a fear of some untoward incident happening to her and they made directly responsible for the consequences. So, the police decided to restrict their role in assisting the hospital.
Sources confirmed that the son was communicating through text messages and assured the hospital that he will pay up the pending bills and take her mother, "Whenever he has time to spare!"
1. The mother bears her child for nine months inside her womb, but when it's her son's turn, he just doesn't have time to spare?
2. Who is at fault? The parents for incorrect upbringing? Or the society for isolating itself from such a universal issue? or the son, who sucked all resources and energy from his mother, but when it's his turn for payback, he just vanished?
3. Is the father not at fault, who didn't bother for his wife, after he is dead? No one stopped him from drafting a "Will" transferring all property and finances to his wife after he dies!
Finance Division. In Indian households, the family properties and finances are taken over by the son or divided among sons, with an assumption that sister will get everything from her husband and in-laws. Although, Indian Law very clearly defines that both sons and daughters are equal shareholders of the family property and finances, post-death of their parents. But, in most of the Indian families, its an unwritten rule that daughters will get everything from her husband and everything will be either taken over by son or divided among sons.
Son is King. Therefore, it becomes compulsory for the son and his wife to take care of their parents in old age. Daughters are never expected to look after them and at the same time, daughters are also not interested to look after them. Also, this is one of the main reason, why sons are more sought after than daughters. We have witnessed many families where the couple kept on producing daughters (in one case 7 daughters! but no son), for the sake of having a son "Next Time"!
Missing Link. We have discussed husband (father), son (his family) and daughter (her family). But we have nowhere discussed regarding the poor widowed mother, who was kicked to old age home, where she will count her last days! We were shocked that a woman who spent her life caring for her son could be treated in this cavalier manner.
Moral of the Story. It was convenient to put aside the woman who nurtured the helpless children all her life as she had outlived her importance in their lives.
Wife and Mother
You have been a housewife all your life and have given your precious youth to nurturing your household.
You raise a happy family and successful children.
You support your husband through the years and helped him build a life that is rewarding.
You help your husband to save money for old age, which was used to buy properties or invest it with various avenues. To save that money, you make lots and lots of sacrifices and keep your own dreams aside for the growth of the family.
But, in today’s materialistic world, like happiness, the memory of the young generation is also short-lived too.
What if the provisions made towards your lifestyle are not enough?
What if you find yourself alone in your old age?
There is much insecurity that surrounds the lives of housewives who pump in all their energies in building, what they think is their kingdom, but sadly that too disintegrates when the king is gone!
Societal Expectations for Widowed Elderly Women
Ignorant Life. The Indian society is very patriarchal and most wives are not expected to know the financial provisions and status of their husbands. The females are brought up from childhood with a mind frame that after marriage, they will have to live inside the boundary walls of the house and spend most of their time in looking after requirements of their husband and kids.
In many families, the girls are told to keep their dreams on hold and materialize them only after marriage (if at all their husband or in-laws support them!)
It is drilled into their minds that Mathematics and Finances are Men's Domain and females are doomed for these fields. The parents rarely spend their time in teaching finances and its importance to girls.
Many a time, we take life for granted and assume that it will go on forever. But the truth of life is that one day we all have to die, leaving our wives all alone, to manage life till last breath.
But, if we observe the trend, then we will realize that by virtue of husbands being the earning member of the family and prevailing cut-throat competition, their health deteriorates more than their respective housewives.
The men work all their lives, but even in this modern age and day, they neglect to tell their life partners about their financial status.
They prefer to maintain confidential notes in some diary or mobile notes, which remains with them only.
With a sedentary lifestyle, cutthroat professional competition, unhealthy food, over-dependence on mobile, slowly the shelf life of the males is shifting to the younger deadline.
The lives of the men are stressful and many times there is an unfortunate incident when the tensions that the man goes through leads to an untimely death due to a fatal heart attack or stroke or any other health unknown issues.
Real Life Incident 2
Dead Husband's Wealth. We know of an old woman whose husband was a marine engineer, who used to work onboard merchant ships. He traveled the world, made huge amounts of money and gave his family a very comfortable life. As a loving gesture, he even gifted his house to his son. This he believed saved the hassle of legalities after his death. He even named his son the nominee on his insurance policies. Unfortunately, the gentleman expired onboard ship, on one of his cruises.
Ambitious Son. The son had access to all the finances and the widow was not even aware of what was invested and where. Very soon the son and daughter-in-law found keeping the lady with them cumbersome as she had arthritis and needed help to get along. A few months later she was left at an old age home run by the charity. The son paid 15000/-per month to the authorities for her care and now visits her only once a year as that is mandatory.
Unbothered Daughter. Her daughter too did not bother to offer to keep the mother who cared for her for so many years, helped her bring up her own children. In fact, she also visited the bare minimum times she could. It was a situation that is repeated many times in today’s fast-paced and materialistic world. Why?
Dead Husband and Subsequent Power Tussle. As soon as father dies, in case of an only son (or one son and one daughter), the swift transfer of property takes place from dead father to son.
But, in case of more than one son, the power tussle starts between them. After Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani died, his sons Mr. Mukesh and Anil Ambani started a stiff court war, inspite of the facts their mother is still alive. The whole country witnessed that battle with fingers crossed, as stock market was assumed to stumble to its lowest level.
Every son wants to have almost full moon out of the paternal finances.
But everyone, including widowed mother, forgets that there is one more alive person, who need to survive the remaining part of her life all alone, i.e old widowed mother.
Prevalent Logic. Most of the time inherited property is divided amongst the children with the hope that the children will look after the mother. This preconceived notion is very wrong many a time.
Today, the children we raise, are more selfish and self-centered than earlier times. This generation is the one which sucks resources from their parents and once they attain financial independence, they just forget their sacrifices. In short, they follow the policy of "use and throw". Once the child has become self-sufficient the mother becomes redundant in their lives.
Revolution Necessary to Habilitate Abandoned Mothers?
Women - Core of Family and Society. They are the birth givers, the nurtures and the ones that pass on values to the next generation.
In our quest for excellence and success, we often leave the age-old values of respect to the elders and responsibility towards them behind.
All of us want our children to do well.
We put the effort in the upbringing but sometimes the hustle and bustle of life and the fact that women always put their children first and surprisingly make the child disregard the mother’s importance in their life. Therefore, they take her for granted and have no qualms in putting her aside when they find her old and feeble.
Illogical Concepts. We want our daughters to be looked after by their husbands and get substantial satisfaction when are dominant in their homes. What remains forgotten is that the daughter-in-law (who happens to be someone's daughter too), who is staying with us under the same roof, also looks for the same rights in her new home. Phew!
The tussle can end if women were empowered to be financially independent. The young woman who is to step into marriage should be taught by her mother that it is important to have financial security. Mothers and mothers-in-law are the ones who can spearhead this drive.
Need for the Hour
The need of the hour has been partly addressed by our judiciary. The parents now have rights to force their children to look after them in their old age, but how many mothers have the heart to sue their own child?
Let us first talk of a woman who has been married for some years and is raising a family. The housewife can raise children with values that respect womanhood. Her sons should be raised to respect his life partner and her daughter should be raised to be financially empowered.
Strong mothers raise strong children and are the backbone for the development of the strong society.
Learn Finances. In the process, always know your family finances. Your husband’s income, investments and assets should be known to you. Apply to every saving instrument jointly with your husband. There is no harm is being aware of all the finances, bank accounts, properties, stocks, other investments, etc. Even the passwords of your husband's email accounts and internet banking accounts shall be known to wives.
Anyone or Survivor. The “Anyone or survivor” clause has changed the future of many a widow.
Great Loss! The grief of losing a beloved husband is huge. It is compounded by the loss of income and financial stability. The property accumulated by the husband and the wife through a lifetime of hard work and saving should be the right of the woman left alone. The parents (which includes the old mother) has already sacrificed a lot of their wants and aspirations for their children.
The education of the child, higher education and the marriages of children take a financial toll on the parents. A substantial amount is spent on them and the "mother is often the person who is left with very little". The children are adult by this time with good education and are well settled in their lives. The assets, money, the home should ideally be transferred to the widow to do as she deems fit.
Social Obligations. Our experience says that society needs to do an about turn in how women, especially housewives are treated. Till her husband is alive the woman has few problems and is shielded from the pain that is the outside world.
Money is Only Honey. In all honesty, money does play an important role in the way the widow chalks out her life. In an ideal situation, the entire estate should be in the possession of the mother as she and her husband have already provided well for the children by this time. So, there is an urgent need for a law where it becomes mandatory for the widowed mother to take over full control of the property and finances from her dead husbands, without any questions asked.
Self Respect. This is a really good idea as the woman can then use the money as her security. If needed, she can exercise her choice to help her children with money, she can do so. The woman can now use the money to live the same lifestyle that she has always enjoyed when her husband was alive. The children might not have the same respect for the mother if she is financially dependent on them. But, money has a lot of power and if the woman has money she can actually be independent.
Mother's "Will". She can then make her own will and pass the remaining assets left over after her lifetime. This will ensure that the remaining assets are not squandered but passed on to her children. Her sentiments are looked after but with her dignity and independence in place. This also ensures that the children do not get the chance to throw her out of their lives and homes after the father has passed away. After all, they stand to inherit if they treat her well.
After Mother. It should be the mother’s prerogative what to do with the assets once she is no longer alive. The first lookout should be that the mother is not wanting for anything. If she has been aware of the husband’s investments the lady can plan her future to be secure. A large amount has already been spent on the children and the woman has the full rights to retain the amount that is left over. The right thing to do is that a will should legally entrust the husband’s assets to the wife.
Self Importance. You are young and idealistic and looking forward to married life and children. This is a beautiful time in your life. But there are some things that you need to make a part of your life. There needs to be one central figure in your life and that is you yourself. It is important to live for yourself. You need to have interests in life but keeping a house, raising children and being a wife.
Finances and Relative Independence. It is very important to be financially independent for a woman. I firmly believe that you grow in confidence and wisdom when you have a life outside the home. You can give your children a better lifestyle.
Husbands Beware! Your wife has looked after your requirements until your last breath. So, it's your duty to ensure that all your properties and savings are transferred to your wife. You can even write a "Will" in that effect.
Working Ladies. The dual income family has been happier than single income ones. Studies show that children of working mothers are more independent and successful than children of housewives. The children raised by successful working women are often more balanced and tend to respect their mothers more. The nest egg that you manage to build will allow you to enjoy your old age with dignity and independence.
Once the lady is working and gets money in her own hands, then her finances are tuned automatically. She happens to be smarter in life and finances than her housewives counterparts.
Widowed. The home is happier and the children moving away does not cause more pain than necessary as the mother always has something to fall back on. The friends that she makes at her workplace are there to support her when she needs support. Even the worst of times, grief at losing her life partner does not leave her utterly alone. She has emotional support and that makes her feel less in need and clingy where her children are concerned. Always remember to have friends that you can depend on. The mother who has no dependence on her children is often better tolerated and loved in her lonely years.
Working and Happy. There is also a chance that a woman will be more respected by her in-laws when she works and earns. The money that she earns is respected and so is the aura of independence and confidence that she gains when she is financially independent. Today’s woman is fiercely independent, educated and aware. Yes, you need to give time and care to your family, but always make time for yourself. It is important to keep the person in the mirror happy.
Straight From Horses' Mouth
We are sure you will not believe this problem to its roots and assume that your kids will take care of you till your last breath, even if your husband dies before you. But before assuming further please see what is happening to widowed mothers, who have been deserted by their financially effluent sons/ daughters, to live in some old age home and wait for their death.
Self Life. A happy woman keeps her spouse happy and stress-free. She raises happy children who love her and grow up with good values. Take care of yourself and give yourself time. Look after your health as it is a key to happiness when you grow older. Have a hobby, enjoy life to the fullest.
Documentation. Take good care to keep the documentation to your and your husband’s assets in place. Do remember that the best gifts you can give your children are a good education and your own retirement plan. If you are not dependent financially or emotionally on your children, they will look at you differently. You will never be a burden they have to carry or look to abandon.
Wake Up! So, take those steps today. Look after your financial, emotional and physical health today to ensure that you can live life on your own terms even after you lose your spouse later in life. Be independent of your children, so they crave your company. Keep your and your husband’s money safe and your "Will" well documented. These small steps will ensure minimal disputes and lots of respect when you need them.
A full life ensures a lifetime of joy. You may be lonely when you are left alone but will never be helpless and dependent if you look after your assets, both financial and otherwise in good shape.
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