21st Century Living
A businessman was dining at a fancy restaurant and – so the story goes – met Lee Iacocca (extremely successful President & CEO of the Chrysler Corporation from 1978 to 1992 and considered the 18th-greatest American CEO of all time.)
“Mr. Iacocca,” he gushed, “the American business hero! I’ve studied your career, and any success I’ve had comes from emulating you. Would you do me a favor? I’m with some colleagues. Please come by my table, say ‘Hello, Harry,’ and let me introduce you. It would mean so much to me.”
Iacocca agreed. He waited for the man to sit down and then walked towards his table.
“Holy smoke!” cried one of Harry’s friends. “It’s Lee Iacocca, and he’s heading this way!”
“Hello Harry!” Iacocca said. “Introduce me to your friends.”
Harry looked at him blankly, “Come back later, Lee,” he said. “Can’t you see we’re trying to have some lunch!”
Kind of like the movie “Network” in the iconic scene where the actor Peter Finch, as Howard Beale, says, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more!”
What is often left out from that quote is the statement made just prior, “I’m a human being. My life has value.” I think some spouses in their 50’s through their 80’s decide that after decades of a somewhat dissatisfying, or perhaps an abusive, marriage they realize that they have a whole lifetime ahead of them and decide that they deserve better. In an article from the AARP June 2012 Bulletin, one of the reasons for a late-in-life divorce centers around the fact that longer lives mean more years with an incompatible spouse. And even though the overall divorce rate in the United States has decreased since 1990, it has doubled for those over age 50.
Jay Lebow, a psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University says, “If late-life divorce were a disease, it would be an epidemic.”
Wow!!!! I had no idea! I’m fortunate in that my second marriage at the age of 47 is still one in which I am very happy now twelve years later. There are those, however, with whom I am acquainted who stick to the dictum of “in sickness and in health, until death do us part” even through an abusive relationship (verbal, physical or otherwise) and, because they’ve been in it for the long haul, e.g., 30 plus years, they feel that they have no choice but to stay.
Why do those with abusive spouses – both male and female – cling to their marriage?
As I mentioned above – one reason is certainly the commitment to vows that were made at the height of a romantic relationship. And there are other reasons. An excellent therapist with whom I am acquainted who leads support groups for the abused told me that over the years, as abuse has prevailed in the household, the one being abused adjusts to each added level or intensity of abuse and becomes acclimated to each added degree. Added to this unwarranted commitment to their abusive spouse, they fear the unknown, even though it may bring about an abuse-free life. And without the help of good friends and powerful resources, a spouse in an abusive relationship may not have the tools that will give them sufficient confidence to make a decision that will benefit them the remainder of their life.
Divorcing later in life can often result in less time to recover financially, recoup losses, retire debt, and ride the ups and downs of the economy.
Some Baby Boomers out there have relished the security that their spouse or significant other has provided them in the form of financial stability. They’re thinking that perhaps it’s worth putting up with this person with whom I am incompatible to guarantee a comfortable enough life until one of us dies. Well – certainly that is a factor – but I personally believe that an individual’s life contains far more value than any bank account can provide. If someone is feeling devalued in their relationship, they have short-changed the remainder of their life. And if someone truly craves, absolutely longs for greater self-worth, nothing will stop them from satisfying that need. I guess you have to look at the options and determine if you’re willing to go with it:
living in a mortgage-free home without financial concerns with someone who tears you down, or renting a one-bedroom apartment with thrift store furnishings, that frees you from a relationship that has prevented you from being your true, and valued self.
But who will take care of me in my old age?
A 2009 National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP survey found that 66% of caregivers were female, with women providing on average 22 hours per week vs. 17 hours for males. In a divorce situation, “older men may make out better financially than women, but they don’t fare so well at finding someone to take care of them when they’re older. They often don’t have alternative care networks the way women do,” says Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. When asked who they will turn to when they’re older, single men often cite paid help – a pricey and somewhat difficult option to find. Some older divorced people have children or other family members who can assume the caregiving role, but not everyone does.
Gray divorce is occurring and there are certainly many factors to consider. I guess I’m of the belief that a bad marriage is not better than living alone. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer – or of any other generational group – only you can decide what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to obtain your sense of personal value. As far as I know, we’ve only been given this one life. This is not a dress rehearsal and there are no do-overs.
Don’t you dread being on a commercial flight when the person next to you starts up a lengthy conversation? Here’s one that has a bit of humor tied in with it:
Striking up a conversation with the attractive woman seated beside him on a coast-to-coast flight, a would-be Romeo asked,
“What kind of man attracts you?”
“I’ve always been drawn to Native American men,” she replied. “They’re in harmony with nature.”
“I see,” said the man, nodding.
“But, then, I really go for Jewish men who put women on a pedestal, and I can rarely resist the way Southern gentlemen always treat their ladies with respect.”
“Please allow me to introduce myself,” said the man. “My name is Tecumseh Goldstein, but all my friends call me Bubba.”
The June AARP Bulletin had a brief piece on the fixtures of our every day life that either have already gone by the wayside or will do so in our lifetimes.
How many of you still have the following items as functioning items in your household or in your day-to-day living?
Answering Machine: a machine that records phone messages either on tape or digitally that is NOT a voice mail service with your home phone.
Home phones: many younger than Baby Boomer age are dispensing with their home phones and relying 100% on their cell phones. In most households that equates to at least two telephone numbers per household. I know it works for all of our adult children, but we’re still holding onto our land line – along with our cell phones of course.
Phone books: the internet and Smart Phones, have taken the place of this yellow book for the most part. I was in my car dealership getting my oil changed the other day and a customer walked up to the receptionist and asked her, “Do you have a phone book?” The look on her face summarized it all for me; it seemed to say: “Is this guy for real?!!!”
Printed encyclopedias. Research now-a-days can be done on-line (computer, tablet, phone) and, quite frankly, is far more accurate and up-to-date than volumes of books whose content is so very limited.
Rolodex. Every e-mail program has a Contacts function with ease of updating being a real bonus. I remember holding onto my Rolodex at work, even though I had also put info into my computer’s Contacts file, just in case I needed it. I dumped the Rolodex a couple months later.
Floppy discs & drives. Most people under 21 don’t know what this storage device is. Confession: when cleaning out my home office the other day I got rid of an unused box of those antiquated and limited storage items.
Film!!!!! Again, cleaning out my home office I found a roll of unopened Kodak 35mm film. I didn’t throw it away, however, because THAT is a collector’s item!
Analog clocks. All of my decorative clocks in my house contain numbers that go around a square or round face – you remember those don’t you? Many children now-a-days are only accustomed to the digital clock and can’t tell time without it.
Stationary & note cards. For me this is the most grievous vanishing fixture in my life. I will NOT stop sending letters and cards by snail mail – unless of course the postal service vanishes before I’m six feet under.
Toilet paper – WHAT!!!!! AARP reports that eventually, toilet paper will be replaced by toilet-seat bidets that will wash and dry at the touch of a button. Please say it isn’t so!!!!! Maybe they figure the wash & dry could add an additional benefit that would make us smile? I still don’t like the idea.
How many of you are now using items that you swore you’d never allow into your household just a decade ago? And what are you holding on to?
The difference between Men’s and Women’s Brains is a very entertaining video, and I think you’ll all find something in this humorous video that might resonate in your own life.
Please take the time to view the video, especially those of you who don’t think you have 13 minutes in which to be entertained by humor that might make a difference in your mood and/or your behavior today.
I wish the best for all of you on this first full day of Summer 2012.
What a terrific article provided in the above link from the “Taking Care of Mom and Dad” blog site. The information provided in this article is valuable, and as Kelli mentioned on her blog, it’s not just specific to the state in which it originated, Oklahoma. The information provided is applicable everywhere because let’s face it – every caregiver pretty much needs the same questions answered and this site has many one-size-fits all solutions for all caregivers who are grasping to stay afloat on their caregiving journey.
This same website can also direct you to your own state’s valuable resources by clicking on the applicable section on the Homepage. It’s as easy as that! And don’t we all need something to be easy every once and awhile?
In the past year, I have lost two coworkers to cancer. Just recently another coworker left his job due to – you guessed it, cancer – so he could spend what remaining time he has with his family. These wonderful people were given a death sentence. They had a head’s up as to when their life’s end/deadline would occur.
Because I care for these people, I’ve been grieving and pondering what their remaining days and weeks were like.
What does one do when they leave their doctor’s office after receiving a fatal prognosis and a guesstimate of how much time remains for them? Of course the initial news floors them and their emotions run wild with rawness, sadness, fear, and maybe even extreme anger. But then they get home, hopefully surrounded by at least one loved one, and…then what?
I know much discussion will ensue of an emotional, practical, and perhaps even legal manner. That goes without saying.
But do you then get out your bucket list and see if any remaining items can be checked off before time runs out?
Or how about a game of Scrabble? Does that seem too mundane and unimportant in light of life’s waning hours?
I’m not trying to be cavalier about this matter and I hope I’m not coming off as insensitive. I’m really troubled by even thinking about having such a prognosis and filling out my remaining days in a valuable way. And again, I’m thinking about my coworkers’ final days and wondering what those days were like for these stellar people. How did they manage?
Personally, I have a very realistic outlook on death – it’s certainly inevitable. I’ve accepted the fact that no one can escape it. And of course I have my preferences on the manner in which I die. For example, if I’m fortunate, I’ll follow in my mother’s footsteps when back on September 24th, 1994, she went to bed none the worse for wear, and never woke up again. Since no autopsy was done, we don’t know the actual cause of death but on this my family can agree – if we have the choice, we’d like to be taken by surprise – in as pain free a manner as possible. If I’ve left no statements unsaid, no deeds left undone, I’d rather not have a calendar in front of me crossing out each remaining day in my life.
How would I fill my days if, like my coworkers, I’m given a death sentence of a finite period of time?
I don’t have the answer, so if by chance you’ve been part of life’s final deadline with a loved one or close friend, what proved valuable to you and your loved one? How did you manage not to think of the remaining time every minute of every day?
In short – how did you survive the process?