Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Full Circle

I've got some other renovation projects going, but it's time to move on from public planning to other topics. Thanks for being a part of the early re-construction!

All of the wonderful ladies in this photograph are dancing on Glory's side, so I don't mind posting their photograph for the world to see.

I've realized that my friends and I have come full circle with respect to our parents. In the sixties, we said many times, "I'll never be like my parents. I'll never whip my children...make them clean their plates/their rooms...keep them from being with their friends..." etc. etc. And when my children came along, I didn't "whip" them, but I did swat their diapered rear ends a time or two. And although I didn't make them eat all their peas, I did insist for several years on substituting carob bunnies for chocolate at Easter. I watched their friends for signs of drinking or smoking pot. For the most part, though, I did the same as my parents did: the best I could.

And now we're in the same spot. We're saying, "I'll never be like my parents." But this time it's while facing nursing home arrangements, chronic illnesses, long involved estates (I blame part of this on the IRS), Alzheimers and dimentia, lack of forethought into what long-term care costs. One person says that when he dies, his estate is going to consist of a checking account. His children will each receive a check. That's it. Another person asks seriously to be aided in suicide in the event of signs of dementia. One friend curses the parent who didn't plan ahead about where they were going when things started deteriorating as he frantically searches for good care. Still another friend has had to move her mom into her house. Her mother treats her as though she's a recalcitrant fifteen-year-old. My husband dreams of a place where all of the family can live together and take care of each other as we age.

"I'll never put my children through what I've had to go through." I hear it again and again.

The truth is that just as when we were bumbling through the part of life where we weren't going to be like our parents before, we're going to bumble through this phase too. We're going to go reluctantly to nursing homes where our children may or may not want to come to visit. We're going to wait too long on chronic diseases to make end-of-life decisions and have to depend on our family to make them. We're going to try to put aside enough money to take care of ourselves in old age and leave a little for the kids and come up short.

The truth is, we are going to be like our parents. And we and our families will do the best we can.


jessica m said...

I've learned from my parents that if you like what you do, never fully retire. I've watched both of them struggle some from retirement. It's good to keep the brain active and engaged with others, and having a sense of purpose lifts one's spirits. Of course, in retirement some also find this level of satisfaction through volunteer work and/or family duties.

mamie said...

I think I'm actually busier outside of work than I've ever been inside of it. At my job I'm left brained; in my hobbies, right. I like the balance.

I like your parental lesson, Jess.