My neighbor, just in the past year, is showing his age dramatically. His back – straight, if not strong, not so long ago - is bent now. His speaks haltingly and sometimes loses the thread of his thought. He shuffles when he walks and seems to be concentrating so hard on this act that sometimes I hesitate to interrupt him for a chat. I’m not certain he always knows who I am anymore. Len is past 90.
He reminded me, when I saw him yesterday, of something I ran across on the web. I copied it out and did not note its origin, though I remember that it is translated from the Chinese, written by a 75-year-old woman to her son:
When I Turn Old
When I turn old, when I am not the original me:
Please understand me and have patience with me.
When I drip gravy all over my clothes, when I forget to tie my shoelaces:
Please remember how I taught you what not to do, and how to do many things by hand.
When I repeatedly tell you things that you’re tired of hearing:
Please be patient and listen to me. Please don’t interrupt me. When you were young, I told you the same story over and over again until you were sound asleep.
When I need you to help me bathe:
Please don’t scold me. Do you still remember how when you were small I had to coax you to take a bath?
When I don’t understand new technology:
Please don’t laugh at me or mock me. Please think how I used to be so patient with you to answer your every “Why”.
When my two legs are tired and I cannot walk anymore:
Please stretch out your powerful hands to lend me a hand, just like when you were a baby learning to walk I held both your hands.
When I suddenly forget what subject we are discussing:
Please give me a little time to recollect. Actually, it does not matter what we are talking about; as long as you are by my side, I am so contented and happy already.
When you see the old me, please don’t be sad:
Please understand me and support me, just like how I was with you when you were young and were just learning to face life. At the beginning, I guided you to the path of life. Now I ask you to keep me company to finish this last leg of my life. Give me your love and patience, I will give you a grateful smile, and crystallized in this smile is my endless love for you.