……and he was a father
Few years ago, I got an opportunity to work at one of the Senior Citizen Facilities; I was very pleased to accept it knowing that it would be very useful for me in order to get experience for future references forwards my Medical Field Career.
My First day, early winter morning, While starting my shift I was asked to spy on all the rooms on 2nd floor. The floor was full of elderly; one in each room. These elderly were living in here because some of them had no families, or were homeless, whereas the others were in this cage because their families had no time, no room for the old bones. No one on the entire floor spoke Indian language, except for one old man. He was usually mute as he had nobody to communicate with because he did not speak English. His eyes probably said more than his lips because eyes do not need any language.
Every time I saw him he was peaceful, taciturn and he would just do whatever the nurses would ask him to do. He would just follow the gestures and Of course, he had no other choice.
One day, when I was asked to help the nurses giving bath to some of the residents there including him, I approached him according to the sequence on the list. Before I even said anything to him, he quietly took of his head covering referred to as Turban, as he knew the routine.
“Where are your washed clothes baba ji?” I asked. I addressed him ‘baba ji’ because I being from Indian origin, was taught this incredible lesson, to not address elders by their name even if they are strangers to us. So ‘Baba ji’ basically would be any elderly who is my grandfather’s age or my grandfather himself.
“jes, cloth, box; he pointed his finger toward the cupboard saying only a couple of words out of the whole sentence in broken English, even though it seemed like he had a lot more to say in his heart and probably thought I was just like other nurses who would only speak English with him.
“I can talk to you in Punjabi, baba ji.” I said to him in his language again. He looked at me with surprised and overwhelmed expression which I could not quite understand that that particular moment. I stayed with him for another little while that day until it was turn to switch to another resident in care. After a warm fresh bath, he talked to me so much about his life, his well-educated children, his beautiful house that he owned at some point in his life, as if he wanted to blurt out the worldly things in that hour itself. Its mentionable here that according to his chart he was described as a very quiet man who did not like to involve much with other residents in any activities.
“My older son has a big house like a castle” The man was telling me so proudly with a victorious smile one day, even though he did not get to share a single corner in that palace that his son owned. In fact, I never heard him complain as to why he was left in that place or about his children.
“are you going to come here every day? “ he asked me with a great curiosity.
“No, once in a while,” I replied. It is good when you visit you know,” he added holding my hand with his wet eyes and smiling lips.
During my 200 hours of placement I visited that facility almost everyday and He always used to be so delighted to see me. He used to look forward for my next visit because I used to bring him some of his traditional food that he fed himself on his entire life, and I used to watch him eat and enjoy.
“I saw a little girl who looked just like my grand-daughter; she was with her mother visiting someone here.” He was informing me one day when I just started my day.
“oh really, so do miss your grand daughter?” I questioned him.
“She comes to see me once a while, but I know she must be forcing her mother to bring her here to see me every day, she is too attached to me, you see.”
“That’s great.” I replied with a phony and formal smile because I knew from the details of his chart that no one had ever visited him in past 2 years, as the children must have been busy with their own lives, children and accumulating sources for their own old age. That was the first day when I realized that the healthiest nutrition for him would be the affection and care of his family at this age.
The time went on and I finally finished my placement there and I still visited him, but not that often. When I got busier elsewhere and skipped visiting him, he would always complain the following day and be angry with me for a few minutes. In just a few moments he would again start telling me his many times overly repeated stories with no sequence but I used to get a unique satisfaction after seeing him happy.
I got busier with full time school and worked part-time and visited him every couple of months however, every time I found him more and more feeble and sitting like a victim of huge silence!
Then I almost could not visit him for 5 months of so, and it was a long gap. When I finally made it to his facility one day expecting the same greeting and attachment, but this time, it was different. The head nurse informed me that he had passed away just one week before. I was shocked and stunned, with no words to say or express. He passed away; no one knows how much he had in the depths of his heart to say!
-Loveen Kaur Gill