Family Caregiving

How much do you care for your parents?...

Jeevath Pithar N Maanai Kooo Mooeaen Siraadhh Karaahee

ੴ ਸਤਿਨਾਮੁ ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ
Ik Oankaar Sath Naam Gur Prasaadh
One Universal Creator God. Truth Is Thy Name. By Guru's Grace:
ਜੀਵਤ ਪਿਤਰ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ਕੋਊ ਮੂਏਂ ਸਿਰਾਧ ਕਰਾਹੀ
Jeevath Pithar N Maanai Kooo Mooeaen Siraadhh Karaahee
He does not care for his ancestors while they are alive, but he holds feasts in their honor after they have died.
Pithar Bhee Bapurae Kahu Kio Paavehi Kooaa Kookar Khaahee
Tell me, how can his poor ancestors receive what the crows and the dogs have eaten up?

The Sakhis (stories) associated with the Guru Sahibs’ lives are very simple. For example, Guru Nanak Dev ji saw a man accumulating lot of wealth. Guru Nanak Dev gave him a small needle. He asked him to return it to him during his next birth. With such a simple gesture, the man realized he couldn’t even take a small needle with him after his death. 

Each lesson our Gurus taught was anchored in the moment and could never be forgotten.

The beauty of life is that it goes very fast. We are just pilgrims passing this earth. This world belongs to no one. Birds do not accumulate any grain. Their nests are usually empty. They are blessed with a great vision. They rise early and at nightfall they return to their nests. Human lives can be lived simply as well.

Lot of Sikhs dismiss the above Shabad saying that since Sikhs do not do “Shrad” this shabad does not apply to them. This is a sad story that echoes through our homes. Guru Ji wrote it years back. It is interesting that Gurbani has underlined “caregiving” from the beginning. 

Sometimes people being cared for stop talking to the person who is giving care. They find excuses, find faults and “reasons” to blame. I was very fortunate to live with my parents during the last years of their life. Hardly a day passes when I do not miss them. I am 55 years old now and I can’t even get over grief of losing them. I have the recurring thought that I may be at fault. That is why I am writing about it. It’s kind of a self-healing for me.

If your brother or someone is taking care of your parents, try to help him or her. Find ways to reach out. There are so many options today to communicate: email, mail, facebook, social media, etc. Perhaps he is too proud to ask for help. Please reach out to him or her. Parents should also try to go to every child’s home so they may not feel estranged as they approach the end of their lives. Life goes so fast. It is unpredictable. Sometimes children think about what they wished they had done after their parents are gone. If you love someone, the time to tell him or her is now. Don’t delay.

Life went by very fast with my parents beside me. Today I feel all alone. Sometimes I ask myself “what else I could have done differently to make them happier?” Maybe, I was too proud. My father always said “Family is like utensils. Quite often they will strike against each other.” Usually it is the “other” who does not care about your family. I call him or her an outsider. One who marries into your family may care about his or her own family but not yours. An example is the husband or wife who does not care about your love with your siblings. My experience tells me that they are usually happy if they can create discord between you and your brother/sister. Relationships are often very weak. Parents should step in and raise their voice and take a stand early on. The longer you wait, there will be more fire and more burnt bridges. The whole family suffers. If you can bring differences between husband and wife, then the other family members may come closer as well. Look at your life through clear eyes.

There are so many ways you can help your parents. I love American life. They have “Father’s Day”, “Mother’s Day”, “Sibling Day”, etc. Sikhs should also celebrate these days. Send a small gift to your mother or father. It will mean a lot. Send a small gift to your brother/sister who is taking care of them. It is said you gift for your own self. You help your own self. Face life. Don’t blame others. Occasionally, take some time off from your routine. Go with your spouse and your children to meet your family, your parents, your brothers and sisters. The hardest thing is life is to live with balance.

Sometimes it’s okay to enjoy being a guest. Guru Angad Dev Ji told Guru Amar Das Ji that their meeting was over and that he should go back to his life. Guru Amar Das Ji said he did not want to return back. Guru Ji said that then he will have to earn through Sewa. In his old age, Guru Amar Das Ji did sewa in the kitchen and fetched water. He was called Amro Nithawan (One who has no place to go.) Guru Ji blessed him: Nithawaean De Thanv; Nioteyan Di Oat (Where those who do not have any place to go find home?) Even Guru Nanak Dev Ji worked in the fields till his last breath. He was against anyone renouncing life. That is why he did not choose his son Sri Chand for Gadhi.

Everyone should try to live independently. Learn to drive. Build your home. Of course, sometimes one has no choice. You can do anything in your home. You can live as it pleases to you. Eat and drink what you like. In the U.S.A. and other advanced countries there are even buttons you wear on your wrist and can press if you need medical help. (Please note: it is not my intention to force you to live independently. I know of a family who would call on my family to live with her when her husband had to go out of town. I enjoyed it. It would give me the whole house to myself. If you have lost money, or did not earn much to save then you should be truthful to your family. You will gain more respect. One son-in-law had no savings. When all his money disappeared, he decided to go to his father-in-law. He started talking big. He started talking about Khalsa Schools. He had no experience and no money. He told me it is very easy to make fool of Sikhs. You do not need money. You do not need any experience. You only have to talk big. You only need a rich father-in-law. You can rip him dry. Some people do not marry if the girl’s father does not own a home. Everything has a reason. Peka House; Sohra House; everything should be in balance. 

Farid Ji speaks about old age. 

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਤਨੁ ਸੁਕਾ ਪਿੰਜਰੁ ਥੀਆ ਤਲੀਆਂ ਖੂੰਡਹਿ ਕਾਗ ॥
Fareed, my withered body has become a skeleton; the crows are pecking at my palms.
ਅਜੈ ਸੁ ਰਬੁ ਨ ਬਾਹੁੜਿਓ ਦੇਖੁ ਬੰਦੇ ਕੇ ਭਾਗ ॥੯੦॥
Even now, God has not come to help me; behold, this is the fate of all mortal beings. ||90||

Or Bhagat Bheekan Ji:

ਨੈਨਹੁ ਨੀਰੁ ਬਹੈ ਤਨੁ ਖੀਨਾ ਭਏ ਕੇਸ ਦੁਧ ਵਾਨੀ ॥
Tears well up in my eyes, my body has become weak, and my hair has become milky-white.
ਰੂਧਾ ਕੰਠੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਨਹੀ ਉਚਰੈ ਅਬ ਕਿਆ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਰਾਨੀ ॥੧॥
My throat is tight, and I cannot utter even one word; what can I do now? I am a mere mortal. ||1||

Every child should invite his/her parents to live with them for some time at least once a year. Sadly, many children think their parents are burden or a disruption to their life. If I could have confined my parents to be with me all the time, I may have done that. But I do think parents should visit all their children to make a clear statement. Every family member should participate and help in care giving. It gives immense pleasure to their parents. If you can’t do it full time, then just sending a full time care giver for a week or two on vacation is more than enough. 

How much do you care for your parents? Sadly, some are so greedy that their eyes are on their property after their death. Who are you saving for? Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? I know of a family who was so greedy they took the old man in only when he was close to his death so that they could be sure to get his money. Sure, the old man didn’t have any other kin. They bought things with his money, including a scooter for their son. Sometime later their son died in an accident. Maybe they were trying to help the old man. Maybe they were serving him. But, I must admit, when their only son died in an accident, for a moment I thought maybe he might have lived had they not ripped off the old man. 

ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਜਾਨਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀ ॥
Preetham Jaan Laehu Man Maahee ||
O dear friend, know this in your mind.
ਅਪਨੇ ਸੁਖ ਸਿਉ ਹੀ ਜਗੁ ਫਾਂਧਿਓ ਕੋ ਕਾਹੂ ਕੋ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Apanae Sukh Sio Hee Jag Faandhhiou Ko Kaahoo Ko Naahee ||1|| Rehaao ||
The world is entangled in its own pleasures; no one is for anyone else. ||1||Pause||
ਸੁਖ ਮੈ ਆਨਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਬੈਠਤ ਰਹਤ ਚਹੂ ਦਿਸਿ ਘੇਰੈ॥
Sukh Mai Aan Bahuth Mil Baithath Rehath Chehoo Dhis Ghaerai ||
In good times, many come and sit together, surrounding you on all four sides.
ਬਿਪਤਿ ਪਰੀ ਸਭ ਹੀ ਸੰਗੁ ਛਾਡਿਤ ਕੋਊ ਨ ਆਵਤ ਨੇਰੈ ॥੧॥
Bipath Paree Sabh Hee Sang Shhaaddith Kooo N Aavath Naerai ||1||
But when hard times come, they all leave, and no one comes near you. ||1||
ਘਰ ਕੀ ਨਾਰਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਹਿਤੁ ਜਾ ਸਿਉ ਸਦਾ ਰਹਤ ਸੰਗ ਲਾਗੀ ॥
Ghar Kee Naar Bahuth Hith Jaa Sio Sadhaa Rehath Sang Laagee ||
Your wife, whom you love so much, and who has remained ever attached to you,
ਜਬ ਹੀ ਹੰਸ ਤਜੀ ਇਹ ਕਾਂਇਆ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਕਰਿ ਭਾਗੀ॥੨॥
Jab Hee Hans Thajee Eih Kaaneiaa Praeth Praeth Kar Bhaagee ||2||
Runs away crying, "Ghost! Ghost!", as soon as the swan-soul leaves this body. ||2||
ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੋ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੁ ਬਨਿਓ ਹੈ ਜਾ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਲਗਾਇਓ ॥
Eih Bidhh Ko Biouhaar Baniou Hai Jaa Sio Naehu Lagaaeiou ||
This is the way they act - those whom we love so much.
ਅੰਤ ਬਾਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਜੀ ਕੋਊ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਇਓ ॥੩॥੧੨॥੧੩੯॥
Anth Baar Naanak Bin Har Jee Kooo Kaam N Aaeiou ||3||12||139||
At the very last moment, O Nanak, no one is any use at all, except the Dear Lord. ||3||12||139||

Author’s Note: This is only a general article. This is not an article on Caregiving. Caregiving is hard. Please use other resources to find out more about how to go about Caregiving.

Photo Copyright: kadmy / 123RF Stock Photo

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