I met a contemporary while loafing in the mall. And by gosh, he looked harassed and dejected. I thought that he had a bad hair day with his colleagues in his office but he quickly dismissed my inquiry claiming that he had just retired. Having as company a fellow senior made me excited since I recently retired from government service too. But my friend acted differently and behaved a bit skittish.
I invited him for a cup of coffee in nearby Starbucks, after all he looked squeamish and not in a hurry. He was reluctant but got swayed later on. We were quiet for a while until the scent of the newly served brew zagged through our nostrils. The treat was on me.
“How’s life my friend.” I asked.
“Well, it’s a bit complicated brod,” he replied. “You see,” he continued, “ I have just celebrated my 64th birthday and my kids, all of them grownups already, still depend on me.”
“Shades of Freddie Aguilar, huh?”
“My wife is bed-ridden from a massive stroke and the medication is very costly. My entire pension even that of our savings have been eaten up already. We are about to go bankrupt.”
“How about your kids? They surely are concerned too?”
“The eldest is working but he has a family and has two kids already. They are all staying in our place. All my kids are boys and all of them are also staying with me. Two of them are not yet employed and literally depend on me for their daily bread. They had a hard time looking for work since they dropped out from school.”
“Now, I understand.”
“How about you brod? Seems like you are having a good time hanging around without any problem at all.”
“Well, we have our individual calls. My older kids are on their own. As soon as they reached their age of majority, ready or not, they are supposed to be independent already. Once in a while, I would send in my support but since they are stronger than I am, common sense dictates that they are better and more agile in their earning powers than I do. I survive on my savings that which I kept for years in preparation for my twilight years, loose change from expenses due the family. I never even expect my kids to support me eventually. I understand their struggle and I do not wish to be a burden on them.”
“That is good. Good for you. My situation is different. My kids, all grownups, are still dependent on me. I fear that day when I would be bed ridden too like my wife. My children would hate that day and worst, would probably hate us too for having nothing to sustain everyone. We never allowed our kids to grow up and be independent. We failed to teach them that they owe the world and not the other way around.“
“Kids today are known as the millennials; those born in 1980 up to 1996. They are not in a hurry to settle down and closely drawn if not very dependent on their parents. It has been said that they strongly identify with our generation but most often, they are described as self-absorbed, wasteful or greedy. While some of them are civic-minded, the rest are simply narcissist and projects always a sense of entitlement.”
“That seems to describe my kids too.”
“Well, it’s a trait of a generation, that which succeeded ours. Our kids may have been socially lured and influenced. It’s their fad. It’s like us during the hippie days when our parents would likewise scold us and misunderstand our ways and rebuke us even on the way we think. Now, it’s their time. ”
“Oh, now I see.”
“In my case, although I have a safe area where I could spend my twilight years, I left it and allowed my kids to stay on and bid on their own. No, I will never stay with my kids. They have a life of their own. I will never get in their way. I will never be a part of their future concerns. Let alone being remembered as a parent, a footnote of history but that is up to that point only. I would rather be homeless or strapped inside a cave. “
“How I wish to be that way too but I have a wife who is completely dependent on all of us. I was even praying that I depart earlier than my wife so that I will be able to bail out from my predicament but it was more on begging a problem than searching for a solution.”
“Leave your kids behind and take your wife to the province. She may recuperate better and your expenses will not be that costly. Let your kids struggle on their own. They will survive I tell you. Your presence merely arrest whatever initiatives they may be harboring. Let them grab the jugular so to speak and discard the thought that you are invincible. It’s a bit painful but it should be done for your kids’ sake. ”
For a while I saw the face of my friend glimmer with a smile. He stood up, emptied the cup, grabbed my forearm and expressed: “Brod, thanks for the break. I will bring home your ideas and if I have my way, there will be another kalyeserye specifically under my direction!”
As my friend walked on, I roared within his hearing distance, “Good luck Lola Nidora!”