As the story goes, there was once a frail old woman whose husband died and left her all alone, so she went to live with her son and his wife and their own little daughter. 

Every day the old woman's sight dimmed and her hearing grew worse, and sometimes at dinner her hands trembled so badly that the peas rolled off her spoon or the soup ran from her cup. The son and his wife could not help but be annoyed at the way she spilled her meal all over the table. 

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you." Exodus 20:12

And one day, after she knocked over a glass of milk, they told each other that enough is enough. They set up a small table for her in the corner next to the broom closet and made the old woman eat her meals there. She sat all alone, looking with tear-filled eyes across the room at the others. Sometimes they spoke to her while they ate, but usually it was to scold her for dropping a bowl or a fork.

One evening just before dinner, the little girl was busy playing on the floor with her building blocks, and her father asked her what she was making. "I'm building a little table for you and mother," she said with a grin, "so you can eat by yourselves in the corner someday when I get big!"

Her parents sat staring at her for sometime and then suddenly both began to cry. That night they led the old woman back to her place at the big table. From then on, she ate with the rest of the family, and her son and his wife never seemed to mind a bit when she spilled something every now and then. 

The story does not end here. It just begins. Let us think about the cycle of life: birth, adulthood, old age, sickness and death, inevitably come to us all. Until we realize that old people are suffering and scared... Until the thought of our own old age catches up with us, we may not have any idea what old people are going through that they do not actually wish to go through. 

Let us try understanding them and occasionally, splashing them with joy and kindness to break their suffering, loneliness and numerous anxieties. After all, how many short months or days do they have left in this world to be with us? While we are still blessed with their presence, let us take care of them and love them as much as they have loved us.

One remarkable cultural trait that is ingrained in many of us, wherever we may be, is our strong sense of family. Unlike in a typical family, it is not unusual for our children in their late 20's to be living with parents, and for grandparents to be happily spending the twilight of their lives with their children, instead in an old folks' home.

This value is second nature to many of us. It is something that our children and grandchildren should continue to emulate and preserve. From crib to death, we are family. We do not subscribe to some cultures whereby on reaching the age of 18, kids are literally thrown out of the house to fend for themselves. Conversely and consequently, when these kids reach maturity and have their own families, they literally throw their parents out into nursing homes where they are left to die. For many of us, this is unthinkable. Let us teach our children by example, these socially redeeming values.

"He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reverses his mother. He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard. He who reveres his father will live a long life; and he obeys the Lord who brings comfort to his mother.

He who fears the Lord honors his father, and serves his parents as rulers. In word and deed honor your father that his blessing may come upon you; for a father's blessing gives a family firm roots, but a mother's curse uproots the growing plant." Sirach 2:1-9

By Tim Pedrosa

 Take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fails, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering-it will take lasting root. Whoever abandons his parents or gives them cause for anger may as well be cursing the Lord; he is already under the Lord's curse. Sirach 2:12-16