In Response to: Challenges of Aging

Permit me, please, to indulge in a bit of cynicism! Parents and children from the age of several months in a baby's life until who knows when (at 20, at 40?) are in constant strife. That is the nature of the beast: parents trying to get kids to do the right, the safe, the desirable thing and children trying to do what they want. This actually never ends; at the period toward the end of life the oldsters are the children, trying to do what they want and the adult children are trying to get the parents to do the right, the safe, the desirable thing.

There is no answer. The strife is part of the game. All one can do is to try in dealing with aging parents to be true to what is considered kind and merciful, even if the aging parents won't see it that way. Yes, other cultures are better at this than Americans; perhaps we are more selfish, but I suspect even in more traditional societies the reverence for the aged is more a facade than a reality, like religious faith that is not genuine in more than most so-called believers; at least I have found this to be true. Religion is claimed for respectable reasons, not true belief. The same with caring for the aged.

As it turns out, of course, death will finally have the last word. Then you will either be relieved to be finished with your obligations or you will be guilty, or both.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.