劝君莫把老人嫌 Young man, disdain not the greybeards

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’…

.
.
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But, I need to be admonished:
“Young man! Disdain not the elderly!”

Old and popular common ditty about the pains and inevitability of growing old. The verses are weaved into a profile of an old man.

老来难,老来难, 劝君莫把老人嫌。
当初只嫌别人老, 如今轮到我头前。
千般苦,万般难, 听我从头说一番。
耳聋难与人说话, 差七差八惹人嫌。
雀矇眼,似鳔沾, 鼻泪常流擦不干。
人到面前看不准, 常拿李四当张三。
年轻人,笑话咱, 说我糊涂又装酸。
亲友老幼人人恼, 儿孙媳妇个个嫌。
牙又掉,口流涎 ,硬物难嚼囫囵嚥。
一口不顺就噎住, 卡在嗓内噎半天。
真难受,颜色变, 眼前生死两可间。
儿孙不给送茶水, 反说老人口头馋。
鼻子漏,如脓烂 ,常常流到胸膛前。
茶盅饭碗人人腻, 席前陪客个个嫌。
头友少,头顶寒, 凉风飕飕脑袋酸。
冷天睡觉常戴帽, 拉被蒙头怕风钻。
侧身睡,翻身难, 浑身疼痈苦难言。
盼明不明睡不着, 一夜小便七八遍。
怕夜长,怕风寒, 时常受风病来缠。
年老肺虚常咳漱, 一口一口吐粘痰。
儿女们,都恨咱, 说我邋遢不像前。
老的这样还不死, 你还想活多少年?
脚又麻,腿又酸, 行动坐卧真艰难。
扶杖强行一二里, 上炕如同登泰山。
无心气,记性完, 常拿初二当初三。
想起前来忘了后, 颠三倒四惹人烦。
年老苦,说不完, 仁人君子仔细参。
对老人,莫要嫌, 人生那能净少年。
日月如梭催人老 ,人人都有老来难。
人人都应敬老人 ,尊敬老人美名传。

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.

Humbling.
And yet…

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