Let’s cut to the chase. Forget the malarkey! Don’t mince words. Hubba hubba! [How in the world can American jargon be translated and still make sense in Japanese?]
Whatever, let’s put the cart before the horse and give it to you straight: Moving into Keiro Retirement Home was a wise and timely decision!
Before we enter into debate, let’s agree on one indisputable premise: You get old, you become a burden. Pure and simple.
So what then should a responsible (old) person do? How about “unburden”?
The Greatest (Jappo) Generation took care of Issei parents. Mochi-ron, and with no hesitation. We benefited from their unselfishness, so it was our duty to tend to their senior needs. This same devotion and responsibility should not be required of Sansei. Not because they won’t, because they shouldn’t have to. The Issei/Nisei relationship was unique; the Nisei/Sansei narrative more American. As different as night and day. If you agree, Nisei should remove any onus of Sansei responsibility by confronting the question of old age — on their own.
My suggestion is quite simple. How about giving up the overrated importance of independent living and consider a residential facility? While you can. Or a care facility if in need of assistance. This would eliminate the need for family conclaves, discussions and arguments. And lingering feelings of guilt by children.
The clarion call that busts the eardrum is, “I’m going to stay at home until I die,” or *words to that effect. This act of independence actually means family members have to remain on constant alert and worry about “something (bad) happening.” It’s as if considering communal living is a slippery slide to oblivion. Au contraire. [*A feeling of guilt and unrest always seems to develop when siblings face the question of who and how to care for Mom/Dad (or both). Of course the expense of supervised care is a consideration.]
There are many in Niseiland doing well, thank you, healthy and happy; enjoying the good life, not close to being an imposition on anyone. Shoot, in checking my Rolodex, I know a lot of these fortunate people. Good for them! Widows and widowers and yes, even couples, continuing in good health and independence. Without being a complete killjoy, the question persists: How much shelf life does this bliss have?
Okay, so I took (great) care of my wife for 14+ years, with only the final five months in a nursing home (Keiro). Wanna give me a medal? Now I calla Home home.
Having two supportive sons means what I want, they want. I decided not to be a burden, so I moved. It’s not like I gave up that much, either. In the process of making up my mind, I compiled a Pro and Con list, weighing all the +s and -s. It wasn’t a snap decision. The choice was based on what (I deemed) was best for all concerned.
After four years, there are no regrets. In times past I could go a week without seeing or greeting a neighbor. Living the independent life, I didn’t know what breakfast was nor cared. Midnight was midday. Not exactly slovenly, but neatness wasn’t a priority either. Trade all this freedom for a regimented existence in a retirement home? Gimme a break. Yet the decision to make the ultimate move snuck up on me. Kinda like buying a new suit. You really don’t have to, but. [A lousy comparison but gimme another break.]
Within the third month here, I was transported to White Memorial Hospital (in an ambulance with the siren sirening!). An extreme happenstance but it sure did make me think about what might have been had I not been at KRH.
You can argue whether humans are meant for communal living. As for me, after three years in Poston, a year as an itinerant day laborer and another three in the Army, mess hall dining was a thing of the past. But no, here I am three times daily, eating with a hundred-something other people. In a dining room being served, to be sure, but still a mass if not a mess.
Convoluted and not very well presented, this is an effort to explain the transition I made. There are other excellent options available, based on location and cost: Laguna, Claremont, Palisades, South Bay. Because of the pending sale, uncertainty shrouds KRH. But I look at this fuzzy future as a positive. Here is an opportunity to jump a waiting list and move in immediately. Unlike other operations, no financial investment or agreements are required and you can move in/out at any time. [Okay, so I admit to being a cheerleader today, sue me!]
I forgot to point out we’re one of a kind here. Which means, ah, congeniality and accord. PC stands for “political correctness” and CW means “conventional wisdom.” As you know, CR2S practices neither. So if the closing remark hints of racism, I do apologize. My only intention is to emphasize our oneness. [Of course, there are people here who think I’m a pain in the oshiri, but that’s what makes life interesting.]
W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.