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Devoting decades to the care of others

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-13 06:55

Liu Jingxu (right) and his elder brother at their home in Qingdao, Shandong province.Provided To China Daily

For almost three decades, Liu Jingxu and his wife have cared for his learning-disabled elder brother in Qingdao, Shandong province.

Despite having a son and daughter of their own to care for, the couple, now both in their late 70s, took on the responsibility after Liu's parents died in 1989.

The elder brother had been raised by his parents his whole life and the only hobbies he had were reading comic books and eating snacks. Liu's wife, Sun Daofang, would buy something for him every time she went shopping.

"My brother-in-law is a grateful man," Sun said. "He receives a disability allowance of 400 yuan ($58) from the government each month and he always insists that I keep half of it - if I refuse, he leaves all the money on the table and waits until I take it."

This money was welcome at the time, as Liu made only a humble living working at a textile mill and Sun was a housewife, tending to a small parcel of land.

In June 2015, Liu's son had a brain hemorrhage and fell into a coma. Every morning for four months, his parents took the earliest bus they could and traveled the 40 kilometers to the hospital where he was receiving treatment. At noon each day, Sun had to go back home to make lunch for the elder brother.

After waking from his coma, Liu's son was paralyzed and the couple now have to take turns caring for him and the elder brother.

Last November, the brother was hit by a car while out taking a stroll. Though not badly hurt, he was hospitalized for seven days.

Liu and Sun, now age 78 and 75 respectively, struggle to stay optimistic.

"My son is getting better, but what about my brother? What if something happens to me and my wife?" Liu said.

"I often joke with him that he dare not get sick, so that we can both hang on for a few more years and die in peace."

Over the past 28 years, the couple have been told by community centers, governments, relatives and friends that they should put the elder brother in a nursing home, but Liu has always politely declined.

"There is no home sweeter than home. As long as my wife and I are able to, we will not send him away. We have been living together for 30 years and we know his temperament, habit, likes and dislikes, and he could not live a happier life anywhere else," Liu said.

Last year, Liu and his wife were honored with a good Samaritan award from the city's Chengyang district for their dedication to their family.

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