In the movie Sicko by Michael Moore, there is an older husband and wife team which have to move in with their daughter due to the crushing expenses of medical bills. I watched as the Mom & Dad were moved into the house, only to find that a) the place they were being moved into had not been cleaned out for their arrival by their daughter, b) the parents were faced with the prospect of having to sleep in bunk beds because the household they were moving into refused to relocate the computer to someplace else in the house, and c) one of their sons had the audacity to complain about the cost in effort and time that it took the family to relocate their parents while in the same sentence belittling the tens of thousands of dollars of medical debt that they had.
Look, I know that you can edit folks to look much worse than they are, but I have to say that the shots I saw of that family made me pretty upset. I understand that not everyone has a good relationship with their parents, and I don’t know the family history involved, but frankly, it was offensive to watch the callous self-centered adult children who half-heartedly welcomed their parents with resentment and attitude. Is that the level of rudeness and express self-interest that our culture has devolved to?
Apparently, I’m the exception to the rule nowadays. Although adopted at birth, I was brought up with the strong family values of an Italian-American family. We’re loud, we’re up in each others’ business too much sometimes, but we love each other and we look after our own as best we could. My partner even said that if my mom and dad suddenly called and needed to live with us, we’d have to make many lifestyle adjustments and living space arrangements (cats would have to go to neighbors and friends due to allergies) but we’d just do it. Without our parents, what life do we have? Don’t complain about your mother with the mouth that she gave to you. If parents become a burden to us, remember that for the first 21 years of life for most of us, we were just as much a burden to them, if not more. Either help them financially to regain independence, or else move the damned computer out of the office and put in a bed for ’em.
Especially in an extended family situation like the daughter was in. Her husband was going over to Iraq as a contractor for plumbing, leaving three or four young boys at home for the mom to take care of . If the daughter was thinking, she would see that the benefits of having mentally and physically capable grandparents around for your children are worth more than the cost of rent, really. Ever try to buy daycare services from someone you trust implicitly?
Well, I suppose I should just take comfort from the fact that the daughter allowed them to move in at all. But still, the son who complained bitterly about having to help his folks move… he needs to be beaten liberally about the head with a clue stick.
My own parents are in their mid-60s, and part of my own personal stress comes from being the oldest child, and yet still not being able to afford property or a way to make good on my familial obligations to care for my parents as they face their elder years should they require it. And let’s face it, eventually they will. As spry and vital as my father is, time is beginning to take a toll on him and his energy isn’t quite what it used to be. Not macabre doom and gloom, just part of the natural cycle of life. My mother is a few years behind him in age, but she’s getting there too. They’re both getting to the point in life when I would really, ideally, love to be able to start taking over some of their financial burdens and allow them to travel or enjoy life, instead of staying chained to jobs for the benefits.
Must just be the education
I must just be hitting on the adjustments of life and living that happen whenever personal growth is occurring. In sanskrit the word for the temper tantrum of the soul which accompanies personal change and advancement is called a “kriya”. I’ve had them before, times when things in life that don’t quite fit well start to seriously chafe and need to be set aside for new patterns and new becomings. Maybe my criticism of that family on Sicko is an outgrowth of my own kriya-in-progress.
Have to meditate on that for a bit. I hope it settles out, soon. You know you’re having a bad kriya when you can’t stand your own company for long sometimes. 🙂