Faces lined with experience, gaits slowed by nature, thoughts rich with memories and hearts filled with love. They are our aged, our seniors our elders. Around our planet, in our countries, in our cities, in our communities. They carry the history of our time deep in their souls. In India and many in Asian and ancient cultures our elders are highly revered as they should be. They are the gems of our society, the glue that holds us together.
I grew up in an Indian (India) society in the heart of South Africa. My Ava, my mother’s mother, lived with us. I did not have the opportunity to know my paternal grandparents. My Father Vie would always tell me that I was the splitting image of his Mother. My maternal grandfather passed away when I was just four years old.
Ava was an amazing woman. She was an entrepreneurial woman in her young days starting off as the local baker in her neighbourhood. Each morning Ava would arise at 04:00 to start mixing the secret dough for the most delicious doughnuts that would be served piping hot to the eagerly awaiting consumers. The secret recipe was only known by my Mother.
In her later years an accident had left Ava with an injury that affected her mobility. She would sit in the kitchen guiding me through Indian recipes. As Ava entered her 80’s she found it difficult to walk and I would spend the evenings on her bed listening to stories of the Indian Gods and Godesses. Ava was an amazing story teller. At night I would take the bed-pan to her bed sometimes half asleep. During the day I would help to bathe her. I loved her dearly. When she died on Mother’s Day in her late 80’s Mother, Aunty and I washed Ava’s body and dressed her for cremation. I became a vegeterian in an effort to be close to her. I missed her so much.
You see in the Indian culture our elders are revered and looked up to with the greatest respect. We seek their blessings in everything that we do. In Ayurveda (ancient Indian knowledge) the aged carry the greatest power in humanity. Their cells vibrate at a electromagnetic level that is akin to peace and love. The blessings from an elder carry great power.
In our household, as a young child I would bathe my father’s feet in warm salt water and massage warm coconut oil into his head each evening on his return from the factory. Decades later, I recall when Father’s life was leaving his body, he motioned with his hand to his head and Mother and I meditated our mantras as his life passed on. We were blessed to spend those last three weeks by his side. As I lit the holy camphor and placed the flame onto his chest to set alight his body at the funeral, I was numb with shock. In Indian culture we meditate for 16 days and for 16 nights after the death so that the soul can leave the body peacefully. It helped me at that time but was certainly not enough. Today I carry the memory of my Father Vie deeply etched in my soul.
As I look around today here in Canada and in many western countries and I witness the disrespect that is shown to the elders, my heart skips a beat and I feel such a hollow in the pit of my stomach. I feel great pain. It is a shameful act when someone hurts an elder, when someone abuses an elder in any form, physically, emotionally or financially. It is the most heinous form of conduct possible and the aggressor should be punished by a severe fine and incarceration. Those monies should be awarded to the elderly victim.
This week we heard that one in 10 Canadian elders suffer elder abuse. Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson has suggested some type of legislation to protect the helpless elderly. Would that suffice? I fear not, for it is the root of the problem that must be also addressed. Our elderly should have all the protection possible as they age. This includes food, accommodation and the right to happiness. It is their given right after giving all their life to their country. They must be adorned.
In the same vein we heard this week of the billions of dollars that technology and internet companies have sitting in their bank accounts. We hear of the millions of dollars invested in wars. We hear of the millions of dollars being invested in research on habits of animals in the forests. Yes massive or monies for the study of psychology of squirrels in the forest. Yet our elders are living in great pain, without enough food to eat, without proper shelter. These are the people who helped build the country, who had to do things the hard way, without the technology of today. It is certainly a sad time.
Society as a whole has to change. So that youngsters are taught to realize that they too will age. Focus in placed on expensive sports lessons and training for youngsters so that they can reach their full potential. I suggest that every youngster serve a portion of their week with an elder in their family or community who needs help. Picking up groceries, cleaning the home of the elder, reading to the elder, getting to know the history of the elder etc. etc.
We need to rekindle the connection between the young and the old. The continuum between young and old must be renewed if our society is to make any progress spiritually. We are more than intellect, more than money, more than titles and more than youth power.
We need a more compassionate and loving society.
It starts with deep love and protection of our children and our elderly the very essence of existence.
I hope that you look around you. Find an elder and make it your responsibility to brighten up their day by a smile, by a greeting, by a helping hand. You will be blessed for sure.
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Founder, Dr. Vie Academy