Sunday, December 30, 2007

Working off one's sins to one's parents

It came as a rude shock to me when, while alone, I realized that my parents were old. Not because of the caricature of the elderly that often have in mind (my parents still have most of their chewing teeth, all their hair and very few age lines) but because of the amount of medicine and relative care they now require; for example, a cold and chills were something my dad braved a decade ago but pneumonia almost took him two weeks ago. And so as any dutiful child, we align our lives towards first supplementing then likely down the road, providing for their future.

But beyond money, I also realized that we must provide for their emotional care as well. These are people who have devoted three to four decades to meaningful work that engaged their minds and bodies and provided them not just with monetary compensation but with psychical challenge and fulfillment, too. Retirement, I am now often told, starts their general decline.

It's good that my Dad has found his niche in the remittance business so banks have been asking for his consultative expertise. So for the family, it's one down, Mom to go. My mother is rarely un-engaged though. Concerns of the home occupy her, which is a good thing because I wouldn't know the first thing in anything to run our household. She always says that homemaking is the most important but unpaid profession. Nevertheless, my sibs and I have to worry.

Serendipity (that lovely thing again) came by way of a lecture in my mom's Church group. A U.P. professor taught her coffee-klatsch the basics of producing and retailing household chemicals. My mom came home excited about her new knowledge. My sibs and I gave her her first capital infusion and equipment. She then remodeled a section of the garage into her laboratory/factory. Last Christmas saw her first orders from our cousins and aunt for their personal gifts.

Despite her early success, she still has doubts on her ability to run her little enterprise. Nothing in her family background really prepared her for business. In fact, she was the first in so many generations of her (paternal-side) family to work, they being land-owners. So our role is not just to bank-roll her preoccupation but to encourage her as well.

Emotional development in children is important as it will determine how successful they will be as adults but it is equally important for the elderly in order to cope with the many physical changes they will or have already undergone (think menopause). Included in this is developing new challenges and new goals. And for us their children to contribute by engaging them in their new endeavors fully -- if only to give encouragement once in a while.

So watch out for Muy's Homecare Systems and support a way of paying parents' back for years of unconditional love.

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