THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
by Albert Shay
Developing Virtue Secondary High School, Grade 12
Making this winter break worthwhile, I decided to visit my grandmother in Washington. She lives in a convalescent home; she is about ninety years old.
As I walked into the convalescent home, I could feel the bitter and suffering ambiance surrounding me. The strong stench of ammonia pervaded the building because the elderly could no longer use the bathroom by themselves. Everyone was sitting in a wheelchair because they were so old. I noticed that they were waiting for their dinner to be served. Some of the elderly needed to be fed because they no longer had the strength or knew how to feed themselves. The people that took care of the elderly seemed quite rough and had very little patience with them. The old folks that lives in the convalescent homes do not have the love and care of their own children; I pity them greatly.
Looking around the room, I finally spotted my grandmother. At first sight, I felt great pain. Tears rolled down my eyes. Her face looked so lethargic and pale, her body was very thin; she could barely open her eyes. Grandmother's state of health made me feel so hurt. My mother and sister also began to cry.
After a short while, grandmother's dinner arrived. I really wanted to feed her because when I was young she raised and fed me everyday. As I was feeding my grandmother, memories arose. I thought of the good old days when grandmother used to take care of me; I remembered it so clearly as if it were just yesterday.
Grandmother began to slowly open her eyes. That instant, I asked, "Grandma, do you know who I am? Grandmother did not reply, she only shook her head. I said, "I am Albert, your grandson, how are you doing?" Grandma slowly muttered, "Albert!?" As she said my name, I noticed that she was short of breath and that she was very weak. Her voice was very low. I started a conversation with her. After talking for a period of time, her energy or chi got better and better. I could tell that grandmother was really happy to see me even though she does not remember me.
I decided to sing an old song that she used to sing to me when I was little. All of a sudden, grandmother began to sing the second part of the song; I was greatly surprised! While we were singing happily, there was this old man that started to complain. Because he saw that we were so happy, he thought of his own family. He began to yell, "I want to make a phone call to my family!" "If can't call, I won't eat!" Then the people that worked there said in a mean way, "Why aren't you eating?" The old man said, " I am not hungry, I want to call my family." Not only did the workers ignore his request but forced him to eat. The situation that I saw made me extremely sad. Convalescent homes are too cruel!
After dinnertime, we took grandmother back to her room to sleep. After grandmother fell asleep, mother told me something very horrifying. The reason grandmother looked so weak was because the doctors have been checking her blood three times a week. If you take so much blood from such an old person she will lose her life! I couldn't believe that the doctors needed to check so much blood!
Mother had a fight with the doctors at the convalescent home. She said that grandmother does not need her blood to be checked anymore. If you take so much blood from her she will die! The doctors accepted mother's request. From that day onward, the doctors stopped taking her blood.
Last year I applied to five colleges, one of them was University of Washington. I hope Washington can accept me. If I am accepted I can take care of my grandmother every week. I can finally repay my grandmother for her loving kindness.
After visiting grandmother I thought for a long time, the old folks that live in convalescent homes do not have the warmth of their family. Their lives are really suffering. When my parents reach old age I will never let them live in a convalescent home. No matter what happens, I will take care of my parents. I must repay their kindness. Ever since I was born, my parents have been loving me with all their heart and have been taken care of me so well. Can I bare to let them stay at a convalescent home to endure suffering?
Everyone should be filial to their parents. If one is not filial, one is no different from an animal. Not only must we be filial towards our own parents but we must be filial to all the elderly people in the world.