Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaving parents behind

Recently I came across a situation that was terribly distressing. There was a school friend of mine (we are talking about the late 80's) with whom I had lost contact some years back. During the time that I remember spending with him in school, he was a good friend. However, as happens many times when you go out of school, and then go to different colleges, we lost touch (even though he was in the same city).
Then, while browsing through the friends list of a friend in Facebook, I came across his name. I promptly added him to my friends list, and within a couple of days, we had regained contact. In email through Facebook, I got to know what he had done after school. He had an interest in going abroad, and so, he did the usual software engineering route, joined a services company, and within a year got the chance to go abroad. He jumped at the chance, and moved with the software company to its US office; and after a year or so, jumped jobs and joined an American company.
All the time, his parents were at home, here, along with his younger daughter. Soon, when the daughter did her education and became a doctor, they found a good match for the daughter (another doctor settled in London) and the marriage happened; the daughter soon left with her husband to London. Now, the parents were left only to themselves in the house. Within a year, they found a suitable bride for their son, he came for the marriage, spent some time at home and then left back to the US. He was still devoted to his parents, coming once every year to visit.
However, and this is now the issue. I visited the parents a couple of days back, and found them to be in a bad position. They are growing old, and have only themselves to take care of each other. They are so used to the city and the circle around them that they are not taking up their son's offer to take them with him to the US, worrying about what they will do in a strange place, whether they will get along with their daughter-in-law (she is used to running the show in that house). The son is not willing to relocate back; he has a cushy life over there, children who are more American than Indian, and so on. And so, the have money (sent by their son), but do not have the moral support that is normally required. They also get testy when you talk to them about going abroad with their son, and I did not raise the issue again in visits. What is a good solution in such cases ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:11 AM