I am not a mutual fund

I never should have let my younger daughter read Water For Elephants. Now when I tell her she gets me when I am old and incontinent she tells me she is going to drop me off at the circus. After all, she says, you like animals. My older daughter thinks I would prefer a commune and has made specific suggestions. Both think I should avoid living with old people. My stepson sidesteps the issue of his aging father saying his dad married a younger woman to absolve him of responsibility. What will he do, I wonder, when his father ends up wrapped in diaper and blue bow on his doorstep?

My husband and I occasionally get calls from concerned family members or Adult Protective Services because Gramps or Mum is gambling away their inheritance/life savings/Social Security check. Prior to a “certain age” irresponsible behavior is merely irresponsible. Then, there’s a point, not precisely known, but agreed upon by “reasonable people” when boozing it up and shopping frenzies are no longer appropriate, as if they ever were and Granny needs an evaluation for dementia. This means having fun, if she wants to be above suspicion, should be limited to wearing clothing and colors that mildly don’t suit her on lunch dates with others of her kind, this means book clubs  and dominoes.

If life were truly fair, which is a big and erroneous assumption, by all rights my daughters should have to change my Depends. I laid down the law that I was done parenting when they turned 18.  They are 27, almost, and 21 and the door still revolves. But do I want a role reversal? Revenge is not nearly sweet as independence. Shall I become preoccupied with the merits of this or that adult undergarment and play pinocle on Saturday afternoons or shall I, the woman who on internship was voted the intern with the fewest inhibitory neurons, remain true to form? Who decided old people should be managed? My husband and I are not investment portfolios, although we have them. I have worked with “old people” in one way or another since I was younger than my daughters, the first jobs in nursing homes. One old woman told me that she and her husband had worked and saved, worked and saved, never had any fun and for what? So they could end up spending their life savings on a place like this. Don’t do it, she said, spend your money now, while you can enjoy it. I think about her often. It was some of the best advice I have ever been given.

My husband tells my daughters that I am afraid they will abandon me in my old age. They assure me that they won’t. I hope not. I intend to be a model of how to live old age to the fullest, how to be thoroughly unmanaged.

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2 thoughts on “I am not a mutual fund

  1. annewlindsay says:

    My kids know I am spending my savings and being the people they are they just enjoy seeing me live my life. Besides they’ll get some real estate. They also know I am planning to age in a way where an interrelationship of me, them and depends doesn’t exist. With friends my age, some childless, I am in very early talks about communal living somewhere warmer than the UK –South of France maybe — ideally a big old farmhouse with room for a studio type apartments ie including kitchen/ bathroom but also a large common area with a big kitchen/eating social area (barn conversion). A shared vehicle(s), piano, internet connection, etc. a guest room or two, and staff hired flexibly for household maintenance and personal care as needed.

    OK. It’s a tall order and such an arrangement is fraught with the problems that any communal living arrangement can have but if it could work it would beat the alternative of being alone or shunted off to a care home or, worst of all being a burden on ones children. We joke about administering mini mental status tests monthly the failing of which would result in automatic expulsion, and so on. I also want an ‘out’ clause. That means if I fail the mini mental status, fail to recognize my children, and/or need depends I want one of the others to take me ‘out’ thanks very much.

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