“when I am old”

There is an interesting short essay that has never failed to draw tears to my eyes. Its  explicit reprimand of our behaviour, in a submissive manner, brings one to reflect on our actions.

This really is an essay about an aged parent’s appeal to a child. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen this piece, and it probably wouldn’t. I’ll henceforth like to share it with whoever might chance upon it, with my imprecise attempts at translating it from Mandarin to English. (I couldn’t get myself to use online translations because they wouldn’t have expressed some of the intended emotions):

“When I am Old”
“When I am old; when I’m no longer who I used to be
Please understand, please be patient.

When I spill the soup over my clothes; when I fail to tie my shoelaces,
Please remember how I used to hold your hands and taught you so.

As I repeat myself endlessly and you’ve grown tired of the words I say,
Please listen before you stop (interrupt).
When you were young, I’d too, repeated the same bedtime story over and over for you.

If I ever need your help to shower me,
Please don’t blame me.
Do you remember how I had to think of a thousand ways to coax you to take a bath?

When I am unfamiliar with the new technologies,
Please do not laugh at my inability.
Do you remember how I had once answered every question – every “why” – you had asked?

When my legs are tired and I am unable to walk,
Please lend me a helping hand – like how I had when you were taking your first steps as a child.

When I forget our conversation topic in the midst of a discussion,
Please give me some time to recall.
It didn’t quite matter what we were talking about – what truly mattered was your presence and willingness to hear my thoughts – and I will be contented.

As you watch me age, please do not grieve,
I only ask of you to understand and support me the way I did for you when you made your decisions in life.

I once taught you how to start your life; please stay with me through my last journey.

I ask for your love and patience; I’ll express my gratitude then in a smile – a smile that holds my unconditional love for you.”

There are some of us who will still be lucky enough to realise and change our behaviour today.

(Image from: http://img.bimg.126.net/photo/zLFBt01pq5KTkm877KScCA==/618681998810782988.jpg. Original Mandarin version from: http://shizhengtong.blog.163.com/blog/static/275350502009528105219131/)

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9 thoughts on ““when I am old”

  1. R.R. my eyes too started to water, not only yours! Your writing, no doubt, comes straight from you heart, such deep emotions!. Are you Russian by any chance? Man or Woman? I want a chance to have all your blog writing on my iPad, so that I can read those beautiful words in peace and quiet when we have shut the study door for the night. Thank you, for sharing this with us.

    • Thanks for coming by, Carina. I am not Russian though I share great interest in the culture and language! I’m glad these writing come to some good purpose, in any ways possible for those who read it. Be well!

    • Thanks for coming by, Carina. I am not Russian though I share great interest in the culture and language! I’m glad these writing come to some good purpose, in any ways possible for those who read it. Be well!

  2. Beautiful piece, thank you for sharing it. It is important that we are all reminded that we were too once not so strong, not so sure, not so able-bodied…and if we are blessed with longevity, will once again return.

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