A friend of mine will soon be dealing with a couple of family health concerns that could very well be simultaneous: her husband’s back surgery and the birth of a grandchild. Contemplating the impact of these two events, she admitted, “I don’t know what I would do if I were still working”.
There is no doubt that one of the benefits of retirement is the freedom to support family members as their lives present changes and challenges. Sometimes the kids or grandkids need help, or a spouse is ill, but more often, it seems the retiree is parenting their own elderly parent. I estimate that half the women my age are what I term “good daughters”, but there are plenty of “good sons”, too, who (among other things) make numerous visits, even out of town, to keep tabs on Mom or Dad.
My “good daughter” days are over, but I have friends who are in the thick of it, and I am filled with admiration for their selflessness. They don’t think twice about what needs to be done—they just do it and they hang in there as long as they need to.
I know they are not so crass as to consider that they are setting a wonderful example for their own children. But it is true, that while supporting one's elderly parents is the proper, loving thing to do, it may eventually also pay off. Because someday—because they they love us and because we may not have screwed up too badly as parents and grandparents -- we hope that our kids will be there for us. They will have seen us in the role of good sons and daughters, so when the time comes, they will know how it’s done.
But please, God, not too soon.