I came up with the idea for this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday blog post, having recently been meeting and talking to many of my contemporaries thanks to a recent reunion of my classmates from Business School. Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see his take on the same topic.
With just two exceptions, I found that my contemporaries were all living either alone as widow/widower or couples with the children away in distant places, more often than not, overseas. Some were seriously considering moving into a rather new development in India, where builders offer accommodation with kitchen facilities but, where residents have the choice of round the clock kitchen and mess facilities, plus cleaning and maintenance and emergency access to medical services. These facilities, called Homes for Seniors are by no means inexpensive but, they offer freedom from loneliness and also the bother of running households.
The underlying theme that I came across, crosschecked again with others not from my classmate gang, living alone, unlike in our youth when we lived with our parents or they with us, is stressful and parents keep longing for the company of children and grand children. Yes, the parents are often called over to baby sit or provide help during pregnancies and such emergencies but, after that occupation is over, there is little for them to do at the children’s homes and they get bored and return to their regular homes and the cycle repeats.
I also found that unlike in my youth when a lot of meetings took place between cousins, uncles and aunts during weddings and other functions, such meetings now a days are infrequent due to distance and career commitments. This too adds to the stress and no matter how often one talks to relatives on the phone, much cheaper now a days than during my youth, the bonds built through personal meetings and food shared are missed too.
I am rather fortunate among my siblings as none of them have their children living with them and one has even moved into one of the many Homes for Seniors in Bengaluru. One brother has died leaving his widow to fend for herself with three of her children and six grandchildren far away. She sounds cheerful because her sisters and other relatives keep her company on and off but, I can sense the longing for the company of her late husband, children and grandchildren. I live with my son, daughter in law and dog and also have been blessed with many friends who keep me occupied with various activities.
Despite such a comfortable existence, I still miss meeting my relatives whenever some memories crop up or a mail lands up or one of them lands up in a hospital. The older ways of living close by to one’s family would have been better for older people like I now realise.
What about you?