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Thread: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

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    Default Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    I didn't go looking for this, it just happened.

    I'm in Beijing, 2010, it's February, the entire month is a holiday there, the Festival of Spring, and the fireworks go off every.day.all.day.every.night.all.night.

    I was there for 3 months, for ... many reasons, none of which were this. Because the fireworks are almost 24 hours a day during the entire month, and they are everywhere, every street, every hutong, launched from every building and on the ground of every street, the only way I found to sleep without being woken was to drink beer every night. I'm from Canada, this didn't bother me at all

    So, I'm walking down the hutong to get to a main street to go get a coffee at a place where the price is reasonable, and there was someone there. The price of coffee in the hostel where I was staying was the overinflated tourist prices, and besides, they didn't open early in Feb, and I was up early every day. I liked my morning walk to get coffee. And, it is nowhere near as cold there in February as it is where I was from.

    So, in the hutongs and basically everywhere there, they all eat dinner out in the street. A hutong is just a narrow street, many can't accept vehicle traffic. At dinner time, tables and chairs are moved out into the street, and they eat together in a big social. Younger men, usually, scurry back and forth between the tables and the family restaurants bringing food and beverages out, and taking dishes back in. All ages are present. Everyone's present, and I had been having my dinners with a group at one 3 way intersection at the end of the hutong where the hostel I was staying at was.

    They basically set a chair out for me one eve. at dinner time, after they'd all seen me for several weeks anyway, and on a daily basis. Sit, sit, was my first invitation. I had already been talking to one of the young men there anyway, since I didn't speak their language and he had been taking english in school and could talk to me.

    I ended up having dinner there pretty much every evening afterwards. Such a community I'd never seen elsewhere. Here in my culture, the one I ended up calling the AngryWhiteManistan culture of death, we all go home at the end of the day, to our homes or apartments, and after locking ourselves inside, we cook and eat dinner in front of the idiot box (TV) This culture of eating dinner together is just their way, and as Beijing was the only place I'd been in their country, I'd have to say they did that everywhere, since, they did it everywhere in Beijing. After dinner, beers would come out, and we'd sit and talk, tell jokes, I was talking through a few of the younger ones who knew my language, and there was much laughter and general all around pleasantries.

    By the way, their beer is generally served in quart sized bottles, and their beer is only 3% alcohol or less, 2.25% or 2.5%. None get hangovers from this, and all are able to get up and go to work the next day as if nothing had happened, when compared to the beer in Canada, which starts at 5% and goes up to 7% or 9% in some beers.

    So, one morning in February, maybe 9 or 10 am by this time, I've got my big travel cup full of coffee, I don't know, my second or third, as I'm heading back towards the hostel now and had already got a street food vendor sandwich of some sort in my belly, and I'm standing at that 3 way intersection with my coffee in one hand and a chinese cigarette in the other, just letting the sun hit my face and warm me up a little, and from one of the family homes there, they have extended familial compounds where several families live in the same area, the big door opens and a man comes out and puts a stool down. Then he and another man walk out carrying an old woman seated between them, and set her down on the stool they just placed there. Then a, I dunno, 4 year old girl, a 3 year old boy, and a I'm not sure gender 1 year old something is seated on the ground in front of the old woman. The old woman is in her 80's, or 90's, I can't tell with asians, maybe she was 70's and maybe she was over 100, but in any event she couldn't walk on her own anymore.

    I say hello in their language. Smile, I'm just standing there having a coffee and a smoke, I really have nowhere to go and all day to get there. No one told me they take entire months off at a time, and I can't go anywhere because everywhere I'd went prior in Feb was closed, so, I'm basically waiting out the remainder of the month.

    This is the corner where I eat dinner, so I've seen all of them before and eat dinner with them now regularly and they all recognize me.

    And as I'm standing there, just taking it all in, watching the 4 of them, the old woman never stops smiling, and the older 2 kids are interacting with each other and the 1 year old or less than 1 year old, who doesn't walk either, just sits, occasionally they say something to or towards the older woman, lean on her knee and say something while looking at her face, but they know she's not going to reply, she just smiles, it hit me. This realization completely overwhelmed me, and I mean completely.

    That woman is going to die soon, either in her sleep or even sitting in that very chair. And the last part of her life, it's the same for all of them in this culture, as far as I could tell, and they do not have the old people prison industrial complex of old age homes that we have, they stay together and are born and die together, so the very last thing this woman sees and hears in this lifetime is going to be the very next thing she sees and hears again when she becomes just like that 1 year old.

    I got goosebumps all over, my heart was flush with energy and the warm fuzzy feelings just flushed all through me in a real powerful way, and it was one of the most real and stark realizations of my entire life. It was also the realization that that is exactly how our entire species had been for countless hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of years.

    We put the ones that don't walk any more with the ones that don't walk yet.

    Anyway, I love you, pass it on.

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    Thumbs up Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Very nice.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Earthlink. what a wonderful, wonderful story. I am already wondering how long I can keep RX pain killers in the freezer. I would rather do it myself than land in an old people's home. In the days of my grandparents, it was more natural as it is in your story. I know I plan to volunteer at one of those place when I get better. I have been in one for a week of rehab. The non rehab people were in a separate wing. Each room I past had a non moving body staring at a T.V.......

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    I don't know why, but your post, Earthlink, reminded me of how last night, I was thinking of how touch-starved everyone in western society is. We are all so starved for simple, physical contact...simple, physical touch. Touch that has no agenda other than to communicate simple, non-ideological love and acceptance. In other words, animal love...animal acceptance...the way animals touch and love and accept each other,



    Because when one is very young, or very old, and one cannot talk, yet, or when one is so old that the power of speech has been lost, or nearly lost, there is always the power of touch...of the wordless communication of love and acceptance...that says so much more than words can ever say.

    Thank you, Earthlink, for that beautiful story

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Thank you Earthlink! I enjoyed this immensely!!

    Honestly, I usually avoid longer posts but I didn't want this one to end...

    The ending was wonderful of course, but the whole thing intrigued me....here we have this displaced Canadian in China. Why? Living in a hostel. Why? Sort of roaming the streets of Beijing, waiting for this festival to end so he can.....what? Who knows?

    I sort of enjoy the not knowing. The epiphany at the end just serves to put an exclamation point on the irony...a stranger in a strange land, wandering aimlessly..and is suddenly served this epiphanic experience. I dunno..the whole thing was just very very cool.

    The humanity of this post will carry me thru the week.

    I wish we had more posts like this. I really enjoy personal stories. They add an entirely new dimension to the forum.
    Last edited by Mike; 16th August 2015 at 04:30.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Thank you Mike, that is a well worded compliment, I'm honoured.

    My only goal here is to take us, even if only one step is made in that direction, away from the prison industrial complex of old age homes.

    Everybody should go there, to one of them. The people all look at you like hurt animals in cages. I walked into one, where my mom and her brothers and sisters had all committed my grandmother, my mothers mother, into one. There was a common room, with a TV, and couches and big comfy chairs and what not. Every single person in there looked me right in the eye when I walked in, it was horrible. And, they can't leave. My grandmother got moved out of the first place she was, because she kept leaving. These are not my children, there are no grandchildren or great grandchildren of mine here. These people are all strangers.

    Me and many of my cousins thought she should go live with Adam, one of the youngest cousins, and his wife and their 2 kids, both pre-school.

    But no, the wisdom of the mostly baby boomers of my mother and her brothers and sisters said no. Adams wife isn't working, obviously, and the income would have helped them. They are collectively paying, I don't know, somewhere over 50K per year to keep her there. The first place they put her was better, and it was 36K per year, but like I said she kept leaving, so they moved her to another where the security is different, as in perma-lock doors and stuff.

    We suck as a species, and it's not any of our fault. Our nefarious leaders spend their time building all sort of industrial complexes, that once built and full of staff, can not be un-built. Every staff member will now fight to keep it exactly the way it is because we all need monies. If you don't somehow come up with more than 1200 dollars every single month, you're screwed, and that's just to be here. If you like food, you need more than that.

    I said this earlier on another post, and I'll repeat it here, what I'd love to see is somehow someway we all leave this place, all 6 billion of us, at the same time, and leave the nefarious leaders behind, by themselves.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    "they do not have the old people prison industrial complex of old age homes that we have"- that's for sure if what I've been told is correct; what Asians do not understand is why we occidentals clamor for animal rights but throw our elderly fellow man under a bus-

    I work with 3 Japanese/5 Koreans- when my latest, 34 yr. old Korean colleague joined our ranks 2 yrs. ago (I 'ain't' no spring chicken anymore) he immediately bowed to me several times and the next day gave me several small gifts from Korea including an absolutely gorgeous Korean book marker (obviously someone had told him I'm a book worm); he continues to be the nicest, kindest, sensitive person one can imagine and has a great sense of humor-he seems to especially like anyone's off-colored jokes because he always laughs uproariously; Koreans have an especially "lusty" sense of humor :-)

    but humor aside all of my Asian co-workers constantly treat me with the utmost respect probably because I'm older than they are-

    Larry

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Great OP Earthlink. I spent 5 years in Thailand and found similar, at least in respect to both elders and family life.

    I recently remarked to my father(87), that it seemed the care of the elderly was becoming a booming business considering the 'homes' I have seen built in the last 6-8 years in my region. The bigger it gets the more impersonal it will be and 25 years ago I heard some horrible stories about staff treatment of the infirm and elderly at some of these 'care' homes.

    How did the west get so divorced from family life, in the 50's and 60's it was still the norm. Not so today, as you say, people live in their own little caves and roll the boulders shut at night.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    What an amazing reflection !
    THANK YOU, EarthLink.

    What inspiring responses posters !
    THANK YOU.

    I was raised in the 60's, 70's by a single parent at a time this was abnormal.
    My friends saw my mother as this women ahead of her time. I saw the family parental figures of both mom and pop as cool.
    The things we want when we do not have them...lol
    I am now considering how to have my own mother (in her 70's now) live with me instead of a "home".
    She and I have such opposite outlook on life...maybe this will be the catalyst to bring us together.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    That sounds difficult raregem, I'm so sorry our culture has become so horribly disfunctional. I've always believed that it takes a village to raise a child. These people in Beijing don't do anything alone, it's a group effort. If you can find others near you, it's worth trying.

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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Hey Mike, if you're 38 now, you're a Dragon, just like me

    This is for you man, and any other Dragons out there. Note how the Dragon was set free, of course!


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    Default Re: Overwhelmed (this is for our senior citizens)

    Quote Posted by raregem (here)
    What an amazing reflection !
    THANK YOU, EarthLink.

    What inspiring responses posters !
    THANK YOU.

    I was raised in the 60's, 70's by a single parent at a time this was abnormal.
    My friends saw my mother as this women ahead of her time. I saw the family parental figures of both mom and pop as cool.
    The things we want when we do not have them...lol
    I am now considering how to have my own mother (in her 70's now) live with me instead of a "home".
    She and I have such opposite outlook on life...maybe this will be the catalyst to bring us together.
    This is a beautiful statement of optimism. Thank you, raregem

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