“But who will take care of you when you’re old?”
Anyone who announces their intention not to have children has inevitably been asked this question. Here is my response:
Who will take care of me when I’m old you ask?
Well, if I’m so incapacitated that I can’t do it myself then it will probably be the nursing staff at a nursing home that I’ve saved money to pay for.
The same nurses will probably take care of you when your children decide you’re too much of a burden for them to take on.
And even if I’m in a nursing home and you’re still at home I won’t be breaking anyone’s heart or asking my family to put their life on hold for mine.
Because most adult children with half a heart take on the care of their aging parents. Even if it means months or years of adapting their lives, moving closer, turning down promotions, burning the candle at both ends and putting their dreams on hold.
When I near the end of my life I won’t be asking anyone to put their life on hold for me. I won’t be breaking anyone’s heart when I forget their name or sending them home sobbing, burnt out and guilt-ridden because they’re trying to care for me while trying to keep their own lives afloat.
Instead I’ll be cared for by those who are paid to care for me. And if no one comes to visit it will be because all whom I knew are now gone, not because my children and grandchildren have left me to wither alone and die.
You see, you and I may both feel loneliness when the time comes but I’m sure there’s no deeper loneliness than knowing you dedicated your life to raising people who no longer care enough to stop by and help you pass the time.
So who will take care of me when I’m old if my flame doesn’t burn out long before then? For me it’ll be those who have chosen to spend their careers taking care of the old like me. They will come in, care for me, and then go home to their own families without me weighing heavily on their hearts. For you it will be people who love you but who are woefully unprepared for the years of heartache, guilt and work that they had no choice but to take on. They’ll spend their days walking around with a broken heart and their nights staining their pillow with tears.
So yes, I do know who will take care of me when I’m old. Now please tell me again how I’m the selfish one.