This happened the last winter kids and I were in Canada. Yaya was in grade 5, learning to talk back and make her stand as a pre teen. I don’t remember why we were arguing, but I remember very clearly her response ” Mama, you better be nice to me, for I am the one who will be choosing the nursing home where you will end up staying when you are old”

That dialogue shook me to the core.( more so because around that time a Chinese Canadian man was arrested for keeping his elderly mother in an unheated garage in Toronto during the winter and he was claiming carer’s benefit)

I didn’t have children because I wanted an old age security, I had them because I really wanted children. I raise them because it is part of having children, not because they need to pay back for all that I have done for them..pathu masam chumannu, theettam kori, kashu koduthu padippichu…I certainly didn’t raise them so they could be my ATM ( any time money) in my old age.

I do not want my children to take care of me in my old age. It is not fair on my children to be burdened with a cranky old woman, just because she gave birth to them. ( I am already stubborn as a mule and strong willed, imagine me 20 years from now) I am responsible for my life and it isn’t my children who should pay for my old age care or take care of me.

I hate the Indian/Asian notion of filial piety where the children are forced to take care of their parents because the parents sacrificed so much for the kids. . Every parent be it in the west or east chose to have the child and raising them is the result of that choice. But to burden them with taking care of their parents by religious or cultural bounds is a phenomenon seen in India/Asia. Elder abuse is extremely common in India and one of the reason it is happening is that some children really don’t want to take care of their aging parents, but are forced by the society. ( I think there is even a law that mandates children to take care of their parents) Years ago, there was the support of the extended families to take care of the older parents/in laws. Now with the nuclear families, both parents working and raising their own children, parents end up as a liability. To make matters worst, life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past two decades so are the chronic diseases (India has  about 90 million people over the age of 60 and women outlive men)

I chose to live outside India/Malaysia because of  the support system available for an older person. I will be eligible for old age pension and I can access government support when I can no longer take care of myself. But while I can, I intend to live in my own home ( and the plan b of driving off the cliff when I can no longer take care of me is still there)

One of the first thing I checked before buying my house is how safe it would be for me when I grow old. I didn’t want a two storey because I wouldn’t be able to handle going up and down the stairs in my old age. Actually  I didn’t want any steps anywhere in the house, I wanted the house to have wheelchair access, close to public transport so even if I ended up not being able to  drive, I can still go out or can employ people who can get to my place using public transport.

I got this as an email attachment sometime ago

A thought to ponder for the seniors !

(Phil. Star Article by: Letty Jacinto-Lopez )

At their 54th anniversary, my friends made a decision to distribute their
combined assets among their living heirs. Their rationale, Para walang gulo.
(To avoid trouble). They added one proviso: While still alive, income
from these properties will be used to maintain our present lifestyle
inclusive of medical expenses, extravagant trips and unlimited shopping.

That’s easy, replied the heirs. The income was substantial to indulge the
old folks with a bonus that the heirs can use in any manner they wanted.

The first year passed without a hitch, but soon the problem surfaced. Each
child used all kinds of tactics to keep the money from his parents. It
reached a point where the poor retirees had to beg for sustenance, robbing
them of the dignity
they worked hard to uphold.

What went wrong?

Bad decision, said a cautious friend who warned the couple of this scenario.
Children are so unreliable when it comes to inherited money. Money
received, which was not expected and not a direct result of something they
worked for, is not given the same value as money earned with their own
sweat and tears. They lose their sense of propriety; gratitude is tainted
by greed and decency gone. This is compounded by in-laws who can tilt or
convince their respective spouses to throw out good sense and filial
affection like soiled rugs, Honey, they’re going to die anyway, so why
waste good money on them?

To avoid falling into this vulnerable, pitiful state, 
keep these 10 tips in mind:

1. Do not retire. If you’re over-aged, retire and get all the benefits but
find another income-generating job or open a business that will keep you
active physically and mentally
. Travel and bond with true friends, play a
sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or parish. Don’t
loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you’ve become a sloppy,
listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that
you never bothered about before. Solve crossword puzzles, play Scrabble,
write your memoirs, and above all, read …this will keep you alert and
keep Alzheimer’s at bay.

2. Live in your own place to enjoy independence, privacy and a solo life.
If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is
reduced to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor or, worse, like
crumbling furniture merely displayed with no added value. Might you kowtow
to conform to their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of
you? If you witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with
your grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your
arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness;
you are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.

3. Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits and assets. If you want to help
your children, do give, but not to the extent that you wipe out your life’s
earnings, singing heroically not a shirt on my back nor a penny to my name.
Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of
tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your
opinion and you will be confident about yourself.

4. Don’t believe your children’s promise to care for you when you grow old.
Priorities change. Many children are not guilt-ridden or filled with a
sense of moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in
their lives. There are still children who would consider it a privilege to
show compassion, genuine love and deep concern for their parents but be
warned that not all children think alike.

5. Expand your circle of friends to include young ones who will definitely
outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with new inventions, trends, music and
lifestyle including all the scams and schemes you should guard against.
Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to
channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons
you learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.

6. Be well groomed and smelling fresh of spring water all the time. There’s
nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by because
you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don’t
look and smell like a corpse when you’re not one yet.

7. Do not meddle in the life of your children. If they ask for your
counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it. Their
situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you
experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to
develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street
smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read
people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own

8. Do not use old age as your shield and justification for turning grumpy.
There’s nothing more annoying than an arrogant, old fool. Welcome each day
as another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.

9. Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just
because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a
depository of knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, make growing
old a fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.

10. Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave
everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care. Be more
accepting that, sooner, not later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song
with a humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving
God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.

Money – Your last power at old age ! 

So save for your old age, don’t have children and think that they will take care of you in your old age.

8 thoughts on “Kadama.

  1. I have friends who decided not to have kids. And as usual everyone else had to interfere, and give advice. The main point they get to hear is that you will have no one to take care of you when you grow old .

    I chose to have my kid because I wanted to be a mother. Not because I wanted a dedicated care taker. I do not expect him to take care of me. If he is willing to spend a bit of time with me when I have all the time in the world, and he doesn’t, that in itself is a bonus. And about the money- our money is ours and not his. If there is something left over when we are gone, he can have it. And I don’t want a bit of his. I can always find a cliff too.

    • URT: My grand aunt gets a government pension, she lives in her own house( fully paid). She will call all of us every time she needs to go to the hospital, because she doesn’t want to spend the money to pay for the taxi and wants one of us to drive her. ( Taxi fare is subsidized for her). She also will not throw away stale food and consume it. She is saving her money for her children, who are all in their 50’s and have a good job and well settled.

  2. Oh boy!! My mother keeps giving me this very advice. Do not give away your money when you are alive..anything you want to give should be upon your passing.
    My aim in life is to grow rich, old and annoying!! 🙂

  3. Most of their energy, time and money parents spent for their children. Economically poor parents even sacrifice many things, including good food, clothing and other pleasures of life for the sake of providing their children better facilities and to give them a good life. Not an iota of selfishness. Not any trace of expectations of returns. In the end when parents become too old, laid down with the hard life spent for the children is it a sin to expect a little solace from the children? They don’t need much. Little love and care from ‘makkal’ they loved so much.
    In the old age everybody needs help. The vigour and vitality of the youth will drain away and one becomes a spent force. At that stage parents crave for love. No insurance cover or old age homes or such alternatives will substitute the love and affection one gets from own children which cannot be bought with money.

    • Bipin: What many parents forget is ” you reap what you sow”, with the love and care and money, there was also abuse showered on their children..most under the guise of ‘raising our children well’.
      I worked as an emergency medicine physician, often sacrificing my own needs. It was my job to care for my patients, I did it not to get anything in return. I have never seen any of the patients whose life I saved and I don’t see the reason why they should be obliged to me.
      Raising children is a job.You do it because you are the one who wanted to have the child.
      No child has ever asked to be born. It is the parents who chose to have the child. I can still see my mother walking home from the market ( over 7 km distance) carrying 5 kg of rice, along with other grocery items. We were not poor. But she didn’t want to take an auto, for she was on a mission to be the self sacrificing mother. I don’t see why I should feel obligated to my mother because she walked 7 km from the market to home. I didn’t ask her to do that.
      I was working as a CEO when I quit my job, so I could take care of my children. It was my decision. Why should my children feel obligated to me for that? They didn’t ask me to quit. Should my children take care of me because I gave up my career? Should they call me and talk to me because I am their mother and I sacrificed so much for them? The answer is No. I chose to have them, I made the sacrifices. My children are free to live their life. If they come and see me when I am old once a year, I will consider that as a bonus. But my old age is my own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *