“Parents do expect their children will take care of them when they get older, Pamela. The truth is, many children don’t.” That is what a social worker friend said to me in 1988 when I talked to her about my plan.
I was living in Dallas, Texas, did not have children and wasn’t going to. My plan was to gather others who did not have children, form a group and get to know one another so we could rely on each other as we aged.
The above response from my friend floored me. I said, “Huh? That can’t be right. Who doesn’t take care of their parents?”
“More people than you can imagine,” was her response.
I have seen first-hand how children respond to parents who expect to be taken care of by them. It’s not pretty. In this particular case, the mother had taken care of her mother and assumed the daughter would do the same for her. The mother let her independence go when her husband passed away. That included giving up driving before she needed to give it up. As a friend of mine said, “It goes to show how out of touch the mother is with today’s world.”
By taking care of yourself now, you and all those who are close to you can breathe a sigh of relief and live long and unencumbered lives.
I agree with my friend’s observation. The daughter, who is in her early 70s, has a husband, daughters and grandchildren. She has a life of her own. I know how much I dig in my heels when someone expects that I respond a certain way. I rebel. That’s exactly what the daughter did. How would you feel?
Taking Care of Yourself Will Make Others Want to Care
When I explained the above situation to my 95-year-old mother, she said, “I was just as shocked when I moved to Florida and got a first-hand look at friends whose children were not involved in their lives. I personally can not imagine you and Linda not being in my life, however, parents should never expect to be taken care of by their kids.”
Every time Mom has let my sister and me know that she has gone to the gym, paid all her bills, hired a handyman to fix things, made friends with folks who ultimately call her to make sure she is doing well, de-cluttered her home, updated her will, paid for her funeral arrangements (it’s reality, folks), used her long-term health care policy to hire an aide for six hours a day…and the list goes on, we are relieved. And a voice inside of me says, “Thank you, Mom. Now, what can I do for you?”
Achieving The Ultimate Gift
What I learned from that conversation in 1988 is whether you have children or not, taking care of yourself to the best of your ability is the ultimate gift. Do whatever it takes to keep, or get, your own house in order. There are many websites dedicated to physical, mental and spiritual health, finances, insurance and more. Study them. Use them.
Listed below are a few of my favorites:
The ultimate gift is that by taking care of yourself now, you and all those who are close to you can breathe a sigh of relief and live long and unencumbered lives.