Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Hello Mi Neighbour | Once a man, twice a child

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:07 AM
Elderly man sitting in wheelchair.

Hello, mi neighbour! Watching from a distance, I couldn't help thinking, once a man, twice a child - also known as the theory of retro-genesis - meaning that we enter the world as babes, grow into adulthood, and get to old age, where the majority of us exchange physical and cognitive abilities for dementia and Alzheimers. At this stage, it is said, we enter the second phase of our infancy and must be cared for as such. Hence the saying, 'Once a man, twice a child'. Hush...that's life.

As little children, many of us recall our parents and grand-parents running here, there, and everywhere, having lots of fun with us without complaining of aches and pains or thinking about old age. To now see 'eternally strong' loved ones enter a phase of life where they cannot walk, cannot see, can hardly talk, and must be fed can be very traumatic for the unprepared. But, the day comes when parents and grandparents become like little children and need the care of their children, now adults.

As parents, we know:

- how and when to change the baby's diapers

- how to feed and burp them

- when there is a bellyache and what to do

- when to check for fever

- how to hold the baby

- when the baby is too hot, too cold or constipated

- when the baby is bored, hungry or lonely etc.

So, as I watched the couple adjust the elderly woman in her wheelchair, I said this must be the lady who pushed them in a stroller, changed their diapers, prepared their meals, took them to the paediatrician, etc. She must have been their 'washer woman' who also schooled them, protected them from 'vultures', counselled them, prayed over them and helped them, to make the wise choices that have redounded to the resounding success that they are today. But she is now their helpless child, not to be taken through the same process, but to be cared for as a babe.

As we reflect on our own mortality and the challenges of old age that await long livers, we must bear in mind a few things: no man is an island, there comes a time when we can no longer do the things we used to or would like to and must allow others to be our eyes, hands, feet, and decision makers.

It's unfortunate that the young seldom reflect on the journey of life and the actions and decisions to be taken before old age. There are millions who base their lives on the pipe dream that they'll be forever young, only to become disoriented, depressed, and even suicidal whenever age strikes, leaving them incapable of gallivanting and pushing their own key.

Now for a little advice for the healthy, wealthy, wise and otherwise: the time comes when much of what we control and enjoy will flit away, leaving us no option but to rely on the benevolence of others. So, prepare, and here's the deal, love your neighbours as yourself, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you are young, look at the elderly, add 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 short years to your age, and that's you in that old person's shoes tomorrow. Be wise, and please help someone from the list below!


Thanks to donors


Natoyer, St Andrew, for donation.

Mr Williams, St Andrew, for offering two single-bed frames


Opportunities to help


- Joyce, St Catherine, needs four sheets of ply to help restore house, which is deteriorating.

- Lorna (elderly), St Thomas, needs for a stove.

- Allison, asking laptop and other equipment to help spread the gospel.

- Neighbour asking for a TV.

- Neighbour, St Mary, disabled and needs a mattress and a stove.

- Neighbour, cancer patient, asking for a bed, stove and a table - sleeping on the floor.

To help, please call Silton Townsend at 334-8165, 884-3866, or deposit to acct # 351 044 276 NCB. (Bank routing #: JNCBJMKX.) Or send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR c/o 53 Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston 10. Paypal/credit card email: Or email hello​ Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.