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Grandparents Missing, Grandchildren Missing
By Sheila Rubin
Where have all the bubbies and zeydes gone? Some are off to climates warm and sunny, while others are busy with hobbies and activities with folks of their own age. The more affluent seniors travel to other lands and cultures. Those who have an academic interest audit community college classes where they fill empty seats in an attempt to learn new things, consider new ideas and grow as individuals.
But, there is another group of grandparents who are just getting by financially. They are restricted by a lack of transportation and the need to pinch pennies. They are often prisoners in their own homes and apartments. Winter is a particularly unfriendly season for them. They fear slipping and falling on the ice, and the thought of broken bones discourages many from venturing out to use available public transportation. The cold wind makes breathing difficult, and the walk to the bus stop becomes exhausting. Unable to afford cab fare except for a trip to the doctor, they turn to TV as their only intake of life. This two dimensional media becomes their eyes and ears to the world. However, one cannot have a discussion with the TV and although the TV speaks, it does not listen. Depression among this group of elderly Americans is prevalent.
They once had an important role in the family hierarchy. When new babies were born, bubbe was usually the first one on the scene. Her role as family caretaker and in house authority on babies and homemaking was unquestioned. Her presence gave mom a chance to get back on her feet. Bubbe provided a support system that eased stress and helped to communicate to the young family that they were not alone.
The economic society we have created requires a mobility that often involves the uprooting of families. Corporate structure is not always kind to the families of its employees. When the promotion comes through or corporate headquarters changes location it is generally the wife and children that have the most difficult time making the adjustment. Dad has his job but everyone else must cope without the support provided by extended family members. Young parents are busy making a living, worrying about bills, creating a home, raising a family, teaching manners and values, helping with homework, making a living, making a living, making a living.
Who will bake cookies with me? Who will teach me to knit and crochet? Who will listen to my problems without trying to solve them? Who will accept me as I am and love me for myself?
Where have all the grandparents gone? Where have all the grandchildren gone?
from the July 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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