by David Bunnell
YOU’RE OLD, YOU LIVE ALONE, and you’re happy as hell. After all those years of crushing responsibilities–raising three kids, somehow getting them through college, and then dealing with your wife’s unfortunate decline and death from cancer, you are suddenly only responsible for you.
Between your social security payments, the nest egg you secretly stowed away in a brokerage account, and the fact your house is all paid for, money isn’t much of a worry. You live in a peaceful urban neighborhood where you can find everything you need within walking distance–restaurants, grocery store, movie theaters, bars and even a post office.
You still have a car but you only take it out of the garage on weekends for trips to the beach.
There are grandkids of course and if they drop by to see you that’s nice but you don’t feel obligated to go out of your way to see them.
You take good care of yourself, walk several miles a day, eat healthy food and hope to maintain your health for as long as possible–maybe set some kind of longevity record.
But you’re scared.
Your adult kids have been coming around more frequently and they are asking some suspicious questions. How come you’ve stopped shaving and where did that little nick in your car’s bumper come from, they demand to know. How come you don’t do a better job keeping the bathroom clean or dumping the trash?
Your daughter Alice makes a fuss because there are three bottles of unopened ketchup in your refrigerator and an old bottle of sour milk. She thinks this is a sign of forgetfulness, maybe you’re coming down with dementia.
Bob, you oldest son, is annoyed because the battery expired on one of your smoke detectors–he thinks you are going to let the house burn down.
Yes, the house, you think, they want the house.
You don’t want to be paranoid but you’re not stupid, either. Your adult children are looking for signs you can’t take care of yourself. They want an excuse to transplant you to a miserable assisted living facility where you will rot away so they can take the house, and steal the money from your brokerage account.
The good news is they are all going to be gone for a month during the upcoming holidays, some kind of skiing vacation which you’ve politely recused yourself from. You’ve already made plans to sell the house and move to southern France, where you have expatriate friends.
You’ve already liquidated your stock holding and transferred the money to a French bank. You’re going to leave them a simple note that says you’re OK and then you’re not going to get in touch with them for several months–perhaps a postcard?
You’re a hero. You’ve liberated yourself from the tyranny of adult children, and you’re going to remain independent and happy until you drop dead in some nice French hospice.
Too bad more of us can’t do this.
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