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Thread: My simple-living cousin (and speaking of FIRE)

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    My simple-living cousin (and speaking of FIRE)

    I just returned from my favorite aunt's funeral. I have two more "Grand Dame" aunts surviving--both in their 90s. Soon I will be one of the family elders, and it's a strange feeling.

    Anyway, I digress...

    My cousin (one of the living Grand Dame's daughters) asked me to stop by to visit her mother, who is now bedridden, and I was happy to do so. I've never been to my cousin's house. She was an accountant for her entire work life. She is now 60 (she looks 10 years younger.. perhaps because she doesn't drink), but for the last 5 years she has been caring for her mother, starting from when her mother called her from out of the blue and asked her to fly out to see her at her home in Kansas because she was feeling "strange" and that one phone call precipitated dozens of doctor visits, a trip out East to stay with my cousin, the eventual liquidation and sale of my aunt's home, and the full-time care taking by my cousin.

    My cousin is smart, very organized, and psychologically well-adapted. And she has a very small ranch house (frankly in some disrepair--and obviously never updated), an old-fashioned Toshiba TV (no flat screen anywhere), a flip phone, and furniture that looked like a collection of flea market finds. She drives an old car. She has never reported having gone on any travels. Yet it was clean and her mother is extremely well-cared for, by her own daughter.

    My take-away was this: I knew my cousin was frugal, but I saw the living proof yesterday. She has no children of her own, but she does have a live-in partner she's been with for probably 30 years). I am assuming she has been socking away money all this time. Then, when her mother needed her, she could be there for her.

    It was a pretty inspiring visit. Sometimes you work for FIRE so you can do all kinds of cool stuff. Sometimes FIRE allows you to step in to someone's life in an emergency and make a real difference.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Neat report to read. Thanks for sharing. It probably helped that the mother - daughter was harmonious or I hope that it was to make much of a contribution.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Care taking is hard work especially at that age. I won’t do that to my kids. I hope she doesn’t resent or regret it. I helped my mom with my dad for 14 years. Bought the house next door. Flew back many times to help my mom using all my vacation and sick time but no way would I do it full time. Plus if you raise kids and then do live in care for parents when do you get to live your own life?

  4. #4
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Yes, it is hard work. I don't know what she actually feels about it, but she's never hinted that she resents or regrets it. She doesn't have children, so she's lived her own life for 50 or so years.

    It's true that this arrangement wouldn't work for everyone. Grand Dame #1, the aunt who just died (my cousin's mom's sister) lived with her son and DIL for the last couple of years. When I was commending them both on how good they were to her, her son said that she had done so much for him his whole life, he felt he wanted to give a tiny bit back (he lived as an adult in the family home for years while establishing his own business). His wife is from Colombia, and she said that she felt very bad when she was pregnant and couldn't offer her own grandmother full time care, so she was happy to be able to do it for my aunt.

    And Grand Dame #3 is currently being cared for at home by my other cousin. They have lived together for years, and my aunt is now 94. My other cousin also hasn't voiced any complaints.

    Maybe I just have very selfless aunts who have raised very selfless children. I confess, I was not that selfless when it came to my own mother.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Catherine, I am not criticizing at all. I had 2 awesome parents but wouldn’t have wanted to do it full time and we got along wonderfully. If they never had kids it would be easier. I am having my fun carefree days in my 60’s . Better late than never. They all sound like great people.

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    My youngest sister and I took Mom home from the hospital when she got her terminal CA diagnosis. We each worked part time alternately and took care of Mom at home alternately. Mom lived just 2hours away. She died in 7 weeks. We wouldn't have had it any other way.

    VERY different from years of care-I totally understand that. Nonetheless, putting life on hold to care for a parent.

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    G, that’s awesome. We all hope to go fast but don’t always get our wish.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Gardenarian's Avatar
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    Your cousins humble me. I would be miserable in that situation. Do you think they're happy?

    I've told DD that she has no obligation to take care of me if I am unable to care for myself. I hope that we're always loving and close, but I have seen lives ruined by the burden of caretaking. A couple months is one thing, but years? I'd rather pay a stranger.

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    With my dad it was mutual because we lived next door and I wasn’t working. We enjoyed the daily interaction. When my youngest was 5 I went to college full time and we helped one another plus we got to see my parents every day. Totally different than being a full time caregiver.??

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    I am sorry for your loss, Catherine. It is so hard when the old ones start going and we are the old ones. I'm at my parents' house these last two weeks and I have been sorting through photos and letters this am, cannot sleep, and trying to pass some letters and photos on to the interested parties.

    Bless your cousin for caring for her mother. How I wish I could pull that off. Going through all this stuff has made me realize that I probably have never had the right personality to do that, but I so admire people who can and wish I were less conflicted about it.

    And absolutely, it is very cool to see Frugality in action and how it enables people to care for each other and lead better lives. Very inspirational, and helps me to remember why I try to practice frugality. I think of it as sustainable living, that' s my motto going forward.

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