“I am disappointed, not by their (the parents) choice; (after all) they are free people. To Yidden the golden years are when you can shep nachas (derive pleasure) from all your years of putting (the children) first. To me, it seems that this is the greatest pleasure one can have. And, it is what a parent has worked for his/her whole life to accomplish. I think that the mutual need for companionship has hidden their un-mutual desire of shepping nachas. This is something they don’t share in common (since) they each have different families. I don’t agree that the kids can be upset that (their parents) aren’t there to share in milestones. I am sad for the grandparents who are losing the joy of a lifetime – literally!!
I recently wrote an article about older adults who are single, whether widowed or divorced, who have grown children with their own young families. What happens when these singles meet, marry and decide to live a life that is independent of their families and friends? The “older” newlyweds I wrote about were going through problems with their friends and families as they chose to follow their dreams and make aliya. Leaving their families, children and grandchildren behind; to be visited when they could, instead of almost daily, brought resentment and upset from everyone they knew and were related to. I opened this discussion to you, for your input. Below are some of the responses I’ve received.
“I think I would be very upset if either of my parents did this. But I’m not sure I would say anything. But the truth is, it would probably come out in the way I related to them because it would be hard not to.”
“I actually had a very similar experience with my parents. My father had remarried after my mother passed on, and when we were all settled with our own families, my father and his wife decided to sell everything and go to live in Israel. I was a very young woman at the time, so you can imagine how it was then. You didn’t just hop on a plane every Yom Tov to go visit. We knew we wouldn’t see them very much once they moved to Israel, and I was so very sad about them leaving us. I knew I’d miss them terribly. But in those days you never expressed your feelings to your parents or argued with their decisions. Shortly after they moved to Israel, my father took ill and died within months. All I could think of was my regret at not having encouraged them to go sooner so that he could have fulfilled his dreams for more then just a few months. I still, now, wish they had made their decision to move to Israel earlier. I had been so sad about the move and now, if I could have had them for a little longer, healthy and happy in Israel, I would have been so happy. Looking back, I wonder why was I so sad they were moving to Israel. I could still have had them, alive and well in Israel. As long as you still have your parents alive, well and happy anywhere on this earth, it is a gift to cherish.
“My parents had a very brilliant way at handling the decisions they made, whether it was about moving, which of the children to visit for Yom Tov or anything in their lives. They simply said to us, ‘We are your parents. Trust that we have thought it out and know what we’re doing.’ By their telling us this, we knew not to question their choices or try to convince them otherwise. They simply made it clear to us with that statement that they were adults and we needed to respect their choices, period.”
“Funny you should ask me, because that is exactly the bombshell my parents laid on us this month. Theirs is not a remarriage, but they are making aliya. They are leaving all of us here in the U.S. and pursuing their life’s dream and moving to Israel. OK, our parents did live across the country, but still, they were able to be here for all the important milestones of our children, and we did visit them once a year. Now, they’re talking about coming to the U.S. once a year, but that’s to see all of us kids and our families. I know it just won’t be then same. But you know, all they will ever hear out of my mouth is encouragement. No matter how lost I know I will feel, my parents always encourage me to follow my dreams and I intend to reciprocate. I am encouraging them to go. No! I’m insisting they fulfill their dreams. And, you know, as sad as I am for me, I’m thrilled for them and proud of them too.”
I have tried to give a sampling of the responses that reflects most of the diverse feelings people have on this topic. Wherever possible I have included the ages of the people who shared their feelings with me. I leave it for you to ponder if there is a similarity of feelings at different ages and stages of life. Do different life experiences color what you expect of those closest to you? Lastly, is how we see the situation and how we feel, the only correct way, or can we understand and accept when our parents take a different road then the one we expect of them?