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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 1, 2006

Walk on ... and never walk alone

By Takashi Omiya

In 2005, we experienced many "storms" the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, the hurricane in New Orleans, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the storms of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. These storms caused me to recall Rodgers & Hammerstein's song "You'll Never Walk Alone."

You may remember the lyrics: "When you walk through a storm/ Hold your head up high/ And don't be afraid of the dark./ At the end of the storm/ Is a golden sky/ And the sweet silver song of a lark./ Walk on through the wind,/ Walk on through the rain,/ Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown./ Walk on, walk on,/ With hope in your heart,/ And you'll never walk alone."

As I enter into the golden age of 80, I am witnessing more and more the older population's dependency on others. For the elderly, the hope in their hearts is for their loving and compassionate caregivers.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to three caregivers.

The first is Earl, who for more than nine years has served as caregiver to his beloved wife. He said, "It is my turn to take care of her after receiving her loving care since our marriage." They have been married for more than 50 years. In the end, the love that is given is measured by the love that has been received.

The second is Dorothy, a caregiver whose husband has early memory loss. She said the most repeated question each morning is "Are we going out today?" She now spends more time driving to shopping centers and having lunch together at the food court or restaurant. We find that "the one you love and the one who loves you is the same."

I met the third caregiver at Costco, pushing her mom in a wheelchair.

I commented, "You're good ... taking care of your mama."

She told me her mother is happier and more alert now, when compared to her stay in a care home.

These caregivers, and there are many others you may be aware of, are doing good and beautiful deeds. What motivates these caregivers? They are of different religious faiths, Christian and Buddhist, yet they give the same loving and compassionate care to their spouse or parent. It must be the teaching of their religious faiths.

At our weekly Sunday service, we recite the Ti-Sarani:

"I go to the Buddha for guidance.

"I go to the dharma (teaching) for guidance.

"I go to the sangha (spirit of brotherhood) for guidance."

Also we recite together the pledge, The Golden Chain, to guide our daily life:

"I am a link in the Lord Buddha's golden chain of love that stretches around the world. ... I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that on what I do now depends my happiness or misery. May every link in Lord Buddha's chain of love become bright and strong, and may we all attain perfect peace."

The Buddhist faith believes that "everything arises from the mind," because our words and deeds arise from our thoughts. Surely, with hope in your heart, you'll never walk alone. There will always be a loving and compassionate caregiver to walk with you.

Takashi Omiya, 80, is a member of 'Aiea Soto Mission.