Monday, October 26, 2009

A Dear Abby letter drove me crazy yesterday

By the time I was 17, I had no grandparents and no father. I never knew either of my grandmothers, my mom's father died when I was 5, and my father's dad died when I was 10. When I was 17, my father died. This year, my uncle, who was the closest thing I had to a father, passed away at the relatively young age of 60.

Not gonna lie, this has all left me with quite a few issues.

I have always been very envious of people who have not had so much premature loss in their lives.

I remember once I had a friend who was talking about her great-grandmother being sick and the distress it was causing her family. We were talking on AIM, and my cousin was in the room. I told her that my friend was upset about her great-grandmother, and that it was surprising that somebody still HAD their great-grandmother at this age. My cousin laughed and said, "It's not weird...we're the only family where everybody dies."

Even though we shrugged and laughed, I realized how very, very SAD that statement was.

(It would also drive me crazy when people, trying to be helpful, would tell me they knew exactly what I was going through...a child losing a parent...because their 85-year-old grandmother had just died. It's not the same thing at all. I think when somebody is passing away at an old age, it is a time to celebrate the fact that they have lived long, full lives. I remember after 9/11 happened, I was looking at the obituaries in the local paper and there were so many people in their 20's, 30's, 40's that had died that horrible day...and then there would be a 90-year-old who had died of natural causes and had twenty-seven great-grandchildren. It just seems unbalanced and very, very unfair.)

Which is why this letter to Abby annoyed me so much.

I wish I could talk to the author of this letter.

I wish I could tell her how lucky she and her husband are that they have ALL FOUR of their parents.

She should be happy that her parents go-out to eat and buy each other expensive gifts.

They have earned that right.

I wish she knew how fortunate her children were to have all four grandparents.

A lot of us weren't that lucky.

I am sure that my mother would have LOVED the "burden" of taking care of her parents in their old age...and it makes me sad that my father will never live in my basement, a la Jerry Stiller in The King of Queens.

I am very jealous of "Afraid for the Future in San Antonio." She has no idea how good she has it.

Diana Rissetto

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Adrian," and I have been married five years, but there is something looming in our future that both of us dread -- our parents' old age. Adrian is an only child. I have one sister, but when it comes to caring for our parents, I might as well be an only child.

Adrian's parents live month-to-month on Social Security and pension checks. If they ever have any extra money, they don't save it. They buy each other expensive gifts and eat out. Neither one of them is in good health, and the day will come when they won't be able to care for themselves or each other, and I know they'll expect us to do it.

My parents are about the same, except they're banking on an inheritance to see them through retirement. That money may or may not be enough, considering how long people live now. My grandparents were frugal. They saved and were determined not to be a burden on their children.

Our parents think it's our duty to care for them. His parents are in their late 60s, and we have young children. We cringe at the idea that after all our hard work we'll go from caring for our children to caring for our parents with no time for ourselves. -- AFRAID FOR THE FUTURE IN SAN ANTONIO

DEAR AFRAID: No one can foresee the future, so stop ruining the present by obsessing about what "might" happen. You say your in-laws are not in good health? One or both of them could die before they become completely dependent on you and your husband. The same is true for your parents. Forgive me if this seems cold, but it happens to be the truth.

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