A few generations ago, families looked after each other. There were sometimes even four generations living in the same house back in the day. When mothers and fathers grew into grandmothers and grandfathers, offspring repaid the elders by caring for them in their last years right in the same home.
But the baby boomers didn’t have time or patience enough to extend this service to the very same parents who raised them. So we shipped their elders off to nursing homes and assisted living centers when they no longer could care for themselves. My generation decided it was easier this way, leaving their elders in the care of others. We seem to have forgotten, it is our duty to take care of the ones who raised us.
I’m not knocking nursing homes, for if not for these facilities, things would surely be worse. There are elderly without family, and there certainly are cases where a family just cannot take care of their elders. But in our rush to make a career, we have thrown money at this duty instead of giving up our precious time. Shame on us.
Look at countries like Mexico. They take care of their own, with many generations living in the same household. In China, elders are treated like the wise teachers they are. I visit nursing homes often, and I can tell you this — if we tapped into the sage advice these seniors have to offer, our country would surely be in much better shape.
This subject is on my mind because my own mother is having trouble getting along on her own. She is late in life, and although she is very independent, she just needs someone around to help her through her day. She has 6 children, and currently we are fighting over where she will live. Each one of her children would love to have her as a house guest in her golden years. She is an awesome cook, a great teacher, and she is a wonderful mentor to our children.
As her children argue over her, mother stands proud, knowing she is loved and needed. Although she may not be able to scrub a floor or tend a garden, she feels like she can still contribute in other ways. She is right. Mom’s loyalty to her children was uncompromised, as her own needs and wants were put aside daily for us. Her passion for writing turned into a job — a way to give her kids more of the things we needed.
Now, as mother can no longer live alone, it is our duty — our honor — to be able to make a few sacrifices in order to make her feel loved and needed.
If mother should decide to live with my family, she will have a quaint little cabin just off our back deck, overlooking the lake with a big front porch and a rocking chair just for her. Our homes will be joined by a walkway, so she can have her privacy but still be close to us. She can help us raise our last child, cook for us, and live out her golden years with honor and respect. After all, she deserves that.
With the nation’s economy crashing down around us, I believe I have found a silver lining. Soon we will no longer be able to throw money at this problem, and families will be forced to take their elders into their own homes, just like our ancestors did. Maybe then we can get our country back to what we wanted in the first place. Maybe then family morals, values and loyalty will return. Let’s hope so.