An annual holiday-time dinner with close friends had me cooking and catering this weekend. It’s a my turn , your turn, their turn kinda deal. And being pregnant had gotten me off the hook for a couple of years.
As we were all pouring our glasses of port or coffees, digesting the fabulous beef tenderloin, crab cakes, and twice baked potatoes I’d cooked up, I began to ask about how everyone’s Mothers and Fathers are. Because a few of our group have gotten AARP (American Assoc. for Retired Persons) cards in the mail and few of us haven’t. But we’re folks of a certain age. The age where some of us have parents who’ve begun to have health issues. And some of us have small children too. We’re called the Sandwich Generation .
And then my dear friend, whom I love as a brother, says,”Let’s address the elephant in the room. Who’ll take care of us when we get old?” And my other friend says, “Be really nice to Eamon”. As of now, neither of these couples have had children and that choice, when applied to this discussion, suddenly seems a scary one.
First, I’d love to offer up my children to help these dear people out when he and they are older. And surely there will be relationships in place because we are all close. But blood’s blood and I realized that his first obligation is to us, his sister, his grandmothers, and his aunts and uncles.
I can’t say that I birthed them because I was thinking about having someone to take care of me. I have yet to think of myself as older and infirmed ever and in a situation where I’d need that care. I had the children for the love that I could give them. That’s the idea. Selflessness and stuff.
I would hope that there would be no dreadful sense of obligation but more of deep respect and love and compassion that anyone I’d cared for in my life would want to care about me, at the least my kid. But life is quick and tricky and relationships can be slippery.
Sometimes people don’t want to be taken care of. Mark’s Grandmother wouldn’t budge from her house even though she prayed every time she went up and down the steps. I kept thinking how, if she loved all these people, why wouldn’t she cut them a break from worrying about her and move somewhere that meant less risks and fear of danger. Nope. She was doing it her way.
Eventually older people do become frail and can not navigate stairs so well. It will inevitably happen to us too. So this house will only be good for us if we’re in good health. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that our needs are taken care of outside of our children first. Then, we can just enjoy those last years or moments when we need each other most to just be and not worry about details. Provided my children still like me then. You never know. Your thoughts are always welcome here.
Thank you for writing on this subject Shalagh. I’m doing research for a private eldercare professional who is looking at new approaches to aging-in-place, such as communal living. It’s important to be talking about this now!
Also, how adorable is that first photo! (Well, all of them are).
One of those less spoken and more understood subjects. I have a friend who is planning on making a blog and referral site for people who are taking care of their elderly parents and need support, a voice, and resources down hear in our area. It is a big and important subject. Your welcome. And I have no doubt, you are a great researcher.
Food for thought but I’m with Marks grandmother on this one! I think it’s her life or my life and that means the choice to stay where you’re happy until you eventually do fall down the stairs 🙂 I think we’ve all earned this right unless we are paralysed or sadly gone through Alzheimer’s or some such dreadful thing. That’s just my penny’s worth. You are looking wonderful btw
First thank you for your compliment although I’m ten years older than that photo with the wee Eamon. I’m entering into that, “looking great for my age category” and the “always wear something around your neck” club.
Sadly, Marks Grandmother passed maybe five years ago. She stayed in that house, true. But her fear of the hospital kept her from telling anyone about the trouble she was having breathing. By the time they got her to the hospital, she died quickly. She did have a few wonderful meals and some beer in those last few days and that makes me happy. She definitely did it her way. Willful that one. Just like you and me Jane.