"At fifty-two, six years away from retirement, one question I haven’t been able to evade is ‘Geri, what are your retirements plans?’ This question scares me, as I have nobody to fall back on. But before I can answer, people answer it for me - while some suggest that I should go on Tinder, find a partner and travel the world, others believe I should move in with my daughter who lives in Canada. Some even advise to move to countries with retirement age as high as 72 so that I can work longer.
Five years ago, when my daughter decided to settle abroad, I didn’t think twice. From pre-travel paperwork to shopping, I helped her with everything. I had been a single mother for years and my daughter was all I had in the name of ‘personal life’. I knew that after she was gone, living alone would not be a concern but ‘loneliness’ would be. Yet, I tried reclaiming myself by focusing more on my professional front and going out with new friends and colleague. In fact, I also tried living with a flat-mate for a short while but I guess 50s is a time when you are used to running your kitchen and doing your laundry in a certain way. The flat-mate moved out after three months.
Two years ago, my mother – now 78, moved in with me. My siblings had their spouses and kids to take care of and hence it was only logical that she moved in with me. Many well wishers advised against it given my intermittent health issues and lean financial condition. And then life threw one of the most interesting questions at me – what does an ideal mother-daughter relationship look like? Is it a selfless one where a 52-year-old mother embraced her fear of loneliness after sending her daughter off to explore the world or a demanding one where a 78-year-old mother commands to be attended to for everything - from daily chores and food to hospital and Church visits? And there is no right answer. My mother has to a great extent filled the vacuum. I am neither alone nor lonely. I miss cooking for my daughter but I am glad I share my meals with my mom. When I miss holding my daughter to sleep, I look at my mother peacefully asleep and there is no greater joy.
By taking care of my mother, I am not trying to set an example for my daughter. My expectation from her as her mother is not linked to my duties as a daughter. Every mother daughter-relationship is unique. "