Over the years, I have had many labels pinned on me. Today I found out I am also known as: a ‘Primary Caregiver’.
Encounters with hospitals and the healthcare system are never pleasant, no matter how you try to bubble-wrap your experience by checking off all the options.
Wearying obligations hanging heavily on brittle-d and jaded ‘piety’…
But, I need to be admonished:
“Young man! Disdain not the elderly!”
Ah, growing old comes with difficulties, the young man is advised not to disdain the old.
I used to be contemptuous of the old, yet today my time has come.
A thousand sufferings ten thousand difficulties, hear my story from the begining.
Hard of hearing makes communication difficult, always getting things wrong and annoying others.
Cataracts blurring the eyes as if stuck with scales, snot always dripping never running dry.
Can’t really make out who is that in front of me, often mistaking Tom for Dick.
Youngsters laugh at me, saying I’m muddle-headed and caustic/churlish.
Upsetting family young and old, sons and grandsons daughther-in-laws all hold me in disdain.
Teeth dropping out saliva drooling, finding it hard to chew and to swallow.
One wrong bite and I’ll choke, gagging retching and clutching at my throat for half the day.
Such pain draining my face of colour, Life or Death flashing before my eyes.
My children and grandchildren is slow with bringing me food and drink, grumbling instead that the old are so gluttonous.
Nose dripping like a pus-filled sore, often running onto the chest.
Everyone’s sick of my tea-cup and my rice-bowl (my presence), and in front of dinner guests I am scorned.
With thinning hair and a balding pate unable to deter the cold, even a small breeze gently blowing will freeze my head.
Hats are a must to sleep in cold nights, pulling the blankets over my head to keep out the wind.
Need to sleep on my side but then find I can’t turn my atrophied old bones, whole body racked with unspeakable pain.
Hardly sleeping at all not knowing if its still night or coming dawn, in one night have to get up seven or eight times to pee.
Afraid of long nights afraid of cold winds, too often catching colds and chills.
These old lungs are weak and prone to hacking coughs, spitting out gobs and gobs of slimy phlegm.
My children all hate me, complaining that I’m filthy and disgusting:
“You’re already so old and weak but still not dead! How many more years do you want to live?”
My numb feet and sore legs, make moving sitting lying painfully hard.
Clutching my stick and forcing myself to walk one or two li, yet just heaving myself onto the hearth is like climbing Mount Tai.
Lethargic and with my memory shot, often forgetting if its Sunday or Monday.
If I remember the former I will forget the latter, always mixing things up and annoying everyone.
Sigh the difficulties of old age are neverending, may the virtuous and the gentlemanly study this carefully:
Towards the old do not disdain, how can life be kept pristine and ever-youthful.
Time flies like the weaver’s shuttle rushing at the old, in the end no one is spared the pains of growing old.
We all should respect the aged, respecting the aged leaves one a good name for posterity.