There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings. ~ Hodding Carter
Happy Friday dear readers, I hope the week has been kind to you all. If you follow along with me you know that they keep me around here to give an emotional and practical approach to the mind numbing and somewhat stark cold world of numbers. The facts of what you have, and how far it can take you in their world of financial planning can sometimes be cut and dry. Where in my world, everything has a little bit of the humanity that makes everything based on the “why” you plan, and “who” you plan for.
Case in point, we have been talking a great deal about Long Term Care as of late. It was brought on by a great in house “Lunch and Learn” event we had in the office last Friday. I looked across the table to some of my fellow co-workers that are in my age demographic as we intently listened to the statistics of aging. The subconscious head nodding, and the eye contact between a few us of made me keenly aware, this was us. We are the audience on both fronts. The care taker to our parents, and the next generation to need to be taken care of. That was a huge ah-ha moment for me.
It was so relevant that one of my very best friends and I discussed it over the weekend. She is in the midst of a stressful set of circumstances involving ailing parents, and the financial toll it is taking on them for health care costs. It sparked the conversation of when is too early to start planning so our children won’t have to be burdened by us later in life. Truth of the matter is, I don’t think there is a too early.
This morning I took my son to take his drivers permit test. Now, you would think that having signed him up for high school, attending Freshman orientation, reminiscing with other parents I saw at my daughters elementary open house about being unable to comprehend he is in high school, that I would know how old he is. However, when he came back into the tiny waiting room at the DMV office after two hours of waiting with a huge grin on his face, indicating he had passed…THAT was when it hit me.
He was positively vibrating as we left the building, learners permit firmly in his grasp. “Mom, can I drive us home?” No. “Why? I passed!!” No. “Mooooom!!! PLEASE!!” NO! “WHHHYYYYY???” I didn’t have a good reason of why yet, except I wasn’t ready. It was all about me in that moment trying to smile and not cry…I was not ready yet.
I’ve sat here today knowing that I have no choice but to get ready, and finding a place of resolve to get me to a point that I can actually allow myself to be the PASSENGER in my son’s life leaves me free falling. It will be the first time in our lives together that I will truly have to relinquish control, and that dear readers is something that frightens me beyond words.
Now, I know parents everyday have to do this, I know every minute of every day there is a moment in time that this power shift happens. Life happens, I get that! But to me, the worlds biggest over thinker and analytical freak on wheels…this is the beginning of the downward spiral that puts me in the nursing home.
Yes, he is my baby that isn’t a baby anymore. I am not allowed to hold his hand as we cross a busy parking lot, I can no longer ask about personal details of his life, God forbid a girl! I am reduced to need to know basis, and that’s been okay for me to deal with, and I’ve handled it okay so far. But now, this is a freedom that steps foot over the boundary line of a world where I am…not needed. UGH, and there is the rub dear readers. Not that I think he will love me any less, but he will need me less and less as the days go by.
The irony of how this all comes full circle is that in listening to this presentation last Friday, I realized as those very same days go by, I will need him more and more. As hard as it will be to see him get his license, and that heart break of having to tell him it’s okay to go, that I trust him to be safe…One day it will be hard for him to do something like take my license, and the heart break that will cause him, in an effort to keep me safe.
I want to think that as he goes off on his own to school, to college or wherever life takes him, Eric and I have instilled the right values and the moral compass to keep him on a good path. That to me is what any good parent should want, put the time in to teach what’s right, and if you do the right things for the right reasons, it will all turn out okay. So, when answering my friends question about Long Term Care, I can’t help but to break the product down the way I break life down. It’s the reason I have the job I have, in all honesty. Long…Term…Care.
I want to grow old gracefully, I want to be the fun grandmother to visit. I hope that I am just like my mother, always around when my grown children need me. Still way on up there in age, I want to be able to do what Mom does. I want to take off on trips with grandkids in tow, help my adult children with everything from holidays to heartache. But when I can’t go as hard or fast or long…or if some illness comes along unexpectedly, I want to put things in place so that it never has to stress my children out to find a way to take care of me.
Call it the last hooray of control I will have, the last real gift I can give them, making it as easy as I can for them to watch me grow old. So maybe they will enjoy it half as much as I have…watching them grow up.