The last few times I spoke with my parents, our phone conversations ran way long. Like an hour plus. I had decided several weeks ago to stop worrying about my parents-grandparents’ situation, and after hearing that my grandparents agreed to sell their Maryland townhouse and move back to Taiwan, I was starting to feel more settled. Then two weeks ago, their house– which had finished an entire renovation– was supposed to hit the market. I searched for it on Zillow. Nothing. A few days later, I called my father to get the scoop, and holy shit, my grandparents had completely backtracked. And my mother, of all fucking people– was back in their corner supporting this fantastical idea that my grandparents would move back into their townhouse and live independently again. I fucking flipped out. I mean, my father has done EVERYTHING from clearing out their junk to going through the papers to coordinating with the realtor and contractors to fixing up the patio and the backyard… Homeboy is 70 y/o and not in great physical shape. I was livid, bc this is absolutely the WRONG decision. Apparently my grandparents came up with a gabillion excuses to NOT list the house (listing price was too low, construction costs were too high, etc.). Meanwhile, their neighbor friend (who drove grandpa to the hospital after his fall) is planting all kinds of seeds, pushing them to stay. So I talked with mom about this fantasy scenario. Look, Dad is moving back to Taiwan permanently in the next year or two. If the grandparents want to stay in Maryland, mom will have to stay with them BUT she is pretty weak and fragile herself, and she cannot drive. Not to mention that she is overall pretty damn helpless and unresourceful. Just telling it straight. So how will they buy groceries, drive to/from the doctor, pick up meds; who’s going to help them shower and go up and down the stairs… No thought whatsoever has gone into this. Why are they even fighting this? My grandparents speak the language in Taiwan. Labor is cheap. There is affordable housing, meds, and services. No brainer. I told my father that he has done everything, and if they are going to forge yet another path, they are on their own. Fuck it. Go do your pipe dream on your own!
Except that my father has a very different value system and cultural identity than I do. My suggestion? Let them try to figure it all out on their own. They’ll quickly realize they don’t have the capacity, and then they will have no choice but to move to Taiwan. I know, sounds harsh, but you know what? Tough shit. YOUR way does not work. Needless to say, dad’s not keen on my tough love approach. Rather, he will honor their decision and do whatever is in his power to help them execute Plan B.
Can you see now how much my family fucking enables bullshit behavior?? Yes, my brother totally comes to mind. Lame. My mother tries to explain that there are other fears at play: her parents are from China. I’s weird to live in Taiwan. Um yeah, except that they probably spent more years in Taiwan than in China. Yes, change is hard, but it’s not impossible. I admit, I have trouble feeling compassion and empathy here, bc if your choices didn’t impact other people, fine. Do as you please. But if you start drastically mucking up other people’s lives, there’s a problem. I feel like my father has done a lot for my maternal grandparents, but hello, his own father is still alive, and he wants to go back to spend what little time is left with his father in his home country. I’m pretty pissed that my mother and her parents are very much thwarting that process. It feels pretty damn selfish and inconsiderate, and clearly, I have a lot of anger about it.
My father told me that he won’t handle things the way I suggest. He understands that I’m upset: he’s certainly frustrated and disappointed, but this is not my problem to handle. Still, I’m supremely annoyed with my mother, bc once again, this is another example of how useless and unhelpful she can be. She doesn’t solve problems: she only creates them. I get that she wants to honor the wishes of her parents. But look, the three of them can’t get shit done, so unless they figure out how to help themselves, don’t be making impossible, unreasonable demands on other people. Fucking A. Yes, I’m falling now into my family’s MO of playing the blame game. What can I say, accountability is real. At some point, the decisionmaking just has to be handed over. Just like parents made all the decisions for the children; the adult children have to make the decisions for the elderly. It just is what it is.
I wonder if my parents witnessing my impatience and frustration makes them fearful of old age. I’m sure my reactions to the current situation give them a pretty raw glimpse of what’s in store when I am they and they are my grandparents. It ain’t gonna be pretty, bc I’m intending to grab the bull by the horns. They raised me to be a thinker and doer. I am not afraid to make the tough calls.