Story - The state of our elderly

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Story - The state of our elderly

Postby Canuck Singh » Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:34 pm

The following is from:

And is a story of the sad state of our elderly in these modern days. This is actually something I have observed myself in my hay-day before beginning on the path of health and research into longevity. The sad state is that all those that you believe are with you now, may not be around in the end, and will place you into an old folks home. So either take care of your health now, or lose it.
Three months ago, I was going for my usual evening walk. As I walking on the main road, I saw a taxi slow down when it passed me and then it pulled over in the small side road in front of me. A middle-aged Pakistani man got out of the car and waited for me to come near him. As I walked by he said "Hello" and I said "Hello" back.

The taxi driver said, "Sorry, I stopped my car when I saw you walking." I was slightly confused why the taxi driver had stopped when he saw me! I thought perhaps he needs help in finding a road or something. He said, "I have been waiting to find a Sardar and today I was lucky." He explained further, "I have a customer who is a volunteer at a nursing home in a nearby village. She was telling me that they have an elderly Sikh man with no family living in the nursing home and that no one knows how to tie his turban. She asked me for help. Although I am a Muslim, I believe that we belong to religion of love for fellow humanity. I saw you and was happy to find a Sikh who could help this lady who works at the nursing home." Waheguru. The taxi driver gave me the lady's phone number and I said I would be happy to ring her and see how I can help.

I got in touch with the volunteer worker and she was happy to find someone who could tie a dastaar for this elderly man. I was baffled who this elderly man in a village nursing home could be considering that are not many Sikhs in the local area, and everyone knows everyone else in the community. She told me the name of the man and I realised it was an elderly man who lived by his own and who had separated from his family for a long long time ago.

We arranged to go to the nursing home and meet the elderly Baba jee. I took a spare Keski (short under-turban), Dastaar (turban) and a Kangha (wooden comb) with me. The volunteer worker was very nice. She was a retired lady and decided to dedicate her spare time to caring for the elderly and sick as part of sevaa. She said that her mother was a devout Christian and used to do sevaa of visiting the sick and elderly in hospital and try and help them out with odd jobs and listen to their problems. Similarly, she has the urge to help others. Waheguru.

ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਗਲ ਪੁੰਨ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥
Aṯẖsaṯẖ ṯeerath sagal punn jeea ḏe-i-aa parvaan.
Being kind to all beings is more meritorious than bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage and the giving of charity.
(Ang 136)

The nursing home was in a nice village in the countryside. We parked up and went inside. On arrival the nursing home staff were happy that Mr. Singh had visitors. Apparently he has been in the nursing home for one and a half years and he never had any visitors since his arrival at the nursing home. Because the elderly Baba jee kept himself to himself and only now and again visited the Gurdwara, no one realised he had gone to a nursing home. Some people assumed he had passed away.

ਛਿਨੁ ਛਿਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਛੀਜੈ ਜਰਾ ਜਨਾਵੈ ॥
Cẖẖin cẖẖin ṯan cẖẖeejai jaraa janaavai.
Moment by moment, the body is wearing away, and old age is asserting itself.

ਤਬ ਤੇਰੀ ਓਕ ਕੋਈ ਪਾਨੀਓ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੨॥
Ŧab ṯeree ouk koee paaneeo na paavai. ||2||
And then, when you are old (and unable to move), no one shall pour water into your cup. ||2||
(Ang 656)

I haven't really chatted to him before. I have only seen him sitting in the Sangat a few times. When I met Baba jee he looked really happy to have visitors and had a big smile on his face.

I had a chat with Baba jee. He seemed content and didn't expect much. He talked a bit about his family. I asked how many children he had. Baba jee replied that he had three sons who lived in London and that he has family elsewhere in other countries. I asked, "How old are your children?" He replied, "They are all grown-up. They came to this country and got married. I have many grandchildren as well." I was happy to know that he had large family.

But then Baba jee said, "They came to see me when I was in hospital (one and half years ago). Their wives said that they did not like their husbands to visit me. They said they had jobs and businesses and it was too much hassle to visit me." I didn't wish to intrude on his family issues so I changed the topic. However, it made think about something Bhai Sahib Bhai Gurdaas jee writes in his Vaars:

ਨੂੰਹ ਨਿਤ ਮੰਤ ਕੁਮੰਤ ਦੇਇ ਮਾਂ ਪਿਉ ਛਡਿ ਵਡੇ ਹਿਤਆਰੇ ॥
nooh nit mant kumant de-e maa pio shhadd vadde hatiaare||
The daughter-inlaw then started continuously advising her husband to desert his parents instigating that they had been tyrants.

ਵਖ ਹੋਵੈ ਪੁਤੁ ਰੰਨਿ ਲੈ ਮਾਂ ਪਿਉ ਦੇ ਉਪਕਾਰੁ ਵਿਸਾਰੇ ॥
vakh hovai put rann lai maa pio de upkaar visaare||
Forgetting the love and help of the parents, the son along with his wife got separated from them.

ਲੋਕਾਚਾਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਵਡੇ ਕੁਚਾਰੇ ॥੧੨॥
lokaachaar hoe vadde kuchaare ||12||
Now the way of the way of the world has become grossly immoral.(12)
(Vaar 37: Pauree 12)

Bhai Gurdaas jee in another Pauree writes:

ਮਾਂ ਪਿਉ ਪਰਹਰਿ ਕਰੈ ਦਾਨ ਬੇਈਮਾਨ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪਰਾਣੀ ॥
maa pio parhar karai daan be-eemaan agiaan paraanee ||
The person who having deserted his parents performs charities, is corrupt and ignorant.
(Vaar 37: Pauree 13)

He said that when he was fit and well he used to go by train to London and visit his family. However, since he became ill, he has been unable to travel anywhere. One day he was at home and collapsed and there was no one else to help him. Thankfully a social-worker came to visit him and looked through the window because he didn't answer the door. The social-worker realised that Baba jee had collapsed on the floor and couldn't get help so the fire-service had to smash the front window and get him out. Since then he had to sell his house and move into a nursing home.

The nursing home staff were very nice. It is great to see that there are places where elderly people with no families can go and live with people to care for them. However, it is also sad that people with families also end up in nursing homes.

When I went to see Baba jee, his hair was in a mess. There was a Keski (short under-turban) loosely wrapped over his head, with his hairs poking out everywhere. Because Baba jee had suffered numerous strokes, he struggled to move his hands and could not comb his own hair or tie his own dastaar. So, I offered to teach the staff how to tie a Dastaar. Some of the nurses said that it is too difficult. But there is one senior nurse who was very caring for all the patients and she said she will not rest until she learns how to tie a Dastaar. It was inspiring to see the nurse's spirit and attitude.

After learning how to tie a Dastaar, the senior nurse tied a Keski and then a Dastaar on Baba jee's head. He was very happy. The nursing home people were so pleased that they took photographs of Baba jee wearing his newly tied Dastaar. The other patients at the nursing home complimented him as well.

I shortly left the nursing home and I promised the nursing home manager that I would let other members of the local community know about Baba jee is living at the nursing home so that they could come and visit him.

Last week, my dad received a phone call from one of the volunteers who cared for Baba jee. She said he had passed away. His funeral was yesterday. The staff said that Baba jee felt very lonely for the past one and half years but still made the most of what he had. Another person who visited him a few times before passing away said that he asked Baba jee, "Do you do Paatth and Simran? Do you need a Gutka Sahib?" Baba jee replied, "I have a Gutka Sahib. However, I know Sukhmani Sahib da Paath and Nitnem off by heart." The volunteer care worker said that she was by his side when he passed away. She said, "He was holding a prayer book (Gutka Sahib) in his hands and he was reciting prayers (paatth) when hen breathed his last breath."

Guru jee says in Salok Mehlaa Nauvaa:

ਸੁਖ ਮੈ ਬਹੁ ਸੰਗੀ ਭਏ ਦੁਖ ਮੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥
Sukẖ mai bahu sangī bẖe-e ḏukẖ mai sang na koe.
In good times, there are many companions around, but in bad times, there is no one at all.

ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਮਨਾ ਅੰਤਿ ਸਹਾਈ ਹੋਇ ॥੩੨॥
Kahu Nānak har bẖaj manaa anṯ sahaaee hoe. ||32||
Says Nanak! Vibrate and meditate on Waheguru; He shall be your only Help and Support in the end. ||32|| (Ang 1428)
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