I remember as a child being asked to visit an elderly woman who lived with her family next door to us. All the children of the neighborhood were invited to say goodbye as she lay dying. We were very young and were not too clear on the concept of dying. All we knew was that several days later, our playmate’s grandma did not live next door any more.

When did this custom disappear (for the most part) of caring for parents in our homes and instead placing them in nursing homes and retirement centers?

If you have children, as I do, you realize what a comfort and blessing they can be. I am in a retirement center now. I did not wish to be a burden to them. They will face their own old age some day. Why should I inflict mine on them prematurely, when they are still young and active?

Marriage means a husband and wife and their children making a life together without the intrusion and complication added of an older generation living with them. Not that we don’t love them, understand. But conflicts do arise at times. Plus there is an emotional aspect of caring for elderly parents. Most of us have not had the professional training to care for them as they should be cared for.

As we ourselves age, we are not physically able to lift them from their beds and put them in wheelchairs.

If this sounds like a cop-out or makes me seem heartless, I apologize. I also do not wish to portray myself as a martyr but, rather, as a pragmatist at heart; what is best for all concerned should be the deciding factor.

I miss my independence, living where I do, but I am also deeply grateful for the convenience and the professional care available if I need it. Reading obituaries I often note that the deceased “died in his/her own home.” I envy them, but then I think: How difficult that might have been for the children.

I chose this lifestyle for the sake of my son and daughter, so they may enjoy their present lives without worrying about me.

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