Apparently there is not enough money in the world (except, perhaps, a young rich tech worker’s world) to prepare one for growing old and – possibly – being in some sort of decent care system. I just finished reading Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant: a Memoir, and am VERY concerned for my (possibly) infirm future. And who will remind Mr. Halfstory about the importance of portion control? Let’s just assume a few things:
a) the offspring will suck all our money with college, emergency loans and baby/teen issues;
b) the government collapses and we all have to live in portable yerts – a disaster for those of us have never even taken our kids camping;
c) Halfstory and I outwit our anxieties – quite a feat – and live until we are 95, an ugly premise at best, given our current ailments;
d) Social Security becomes a folktale;
e) our children despise us because they have achieved the ability to read our thoughts (see “suck up all our money on college,” above) and have left us to the care of underpaid strangers;
Actually, forget it. Having recently sent The Son off to college, I have been forced to mature, and recognize several issues:
a) it is unlikely he will clean the shared bathroom, despite all the supplies I sent with him;
b) it’s not time – yet – to turn his room into a tiki bar;
c) can someone invent a candy necklace that has on its string: antibiotics, vitamin C tablets, condoms and antihistamines all interspersed (shout-out to you, here, Annette);
d) the time with your children is FAR shorter than you think, so…that month before college when he/she is being a jerk? Be tolerant;
e) with boys, communication via text is solid, and maybe your only choice. When you’re at a party no one needs to know you’re conversing with your parents.
And all of the above has forced my Big Girl hand. I. Am. An. Adult. Up until a year or so ago I would have the occasional stray thought, like “well, maybe I’ll be a (insert vocation here).” Now I see I am there and must act accordingly, including facing up to the Growing Old Challenge. Everyday I say to myself (at least once): “what would an adult do in this situation?” I even have a few specific friends whose names I put in place of the word “adult” (shout-out to you, Jenn). Reading Chast’s book was the sly alarm clock. Hopefully you have seen her numerous cartoons in The New Yorker. If not, shame on you! Her squiggly, intense, playful, insightful comics are right up there with modern philosophy. In her memoir she relates the process of her parents living well into their 90s and her experience dealing with both her miserable childhood and taking care of them (she’s an only child). Plus – bonus – it’s a graphic affair, so you get the visuals, too. Don’t be afraid of graphic literature. Research shows they call upon more facets of your brain than straight text. So you can exercise your aging cells, too! The book is hysterical, frightening, poignant, lovely and back to hysterical. It’s what we all need as we approach Oldville. My immediate response was to GIVE AWAY MOST OF MY STUFF. And that is never a bad thing.