An acquaintance 'phoned me yesterday to explain that she will not be able to attend a meeting next Saturday and would I please pass on her apologies. I may not get to the meeting either but my reasons for not doing so will be very different from hers.
She is 'baby sitting' for at least the next six months, possibly longer. "Baby sitting" is not quite the right term but it is the one she used. What she will be doing is looking after her son's three children, aged 4, 7 and 10 yrs. She will be doing this full time. It is not the retirement this acquaintance had planned. Retirement was supposed to be a chance to do a little travelling, get the garden in order, do some community work with a service club and the church and join out knitting group. It was supposed to be a slow preparation for a move to a retirement village in the knowledge that her family will not be willing or able to care for her. She is not in the best of health so all of this had been carefully considered. It was supposed to be a balanced approach to life. Now she will be endeavouring to find the energy to do what a much younger person would do. What is more she will have to do it alone. Her husband died some years ago.
Add to all that there are her daughter's children, the two who need to be picked up from school and taken to football and athletics and all the other activities. She will be caring for them over the month of the summer holidays as well.
Her children know what they are asking. They say it will keep her busy, active, young and that it will be good for her. I wonder. She feels she cannot refuse. I asked her what they would do if she was not available. The matter had not even been discussed. What if you become really ill? That has not been discussed. Non-availability is not an option. Illness is not an option. Retirement is not an option. So why are her children are already planning their retirement?