If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times.
From the lips of older parishioners I heard: “I don’t want to be a burden to my children”.
I’d try to unpack those words. “What do you mean by ‘burden’?” I would ask.
Then I’d try another tack. “Were your children a burden as you raised them?” would be my next question.
The older parishioner would inevitably say, “but of course not”.
But try as I might to assure the senior that her/his children would be honoured to care for her/him in the event of incapacity; that senior would counter “but I don’t want to be a burden”.
I suspect that behind those words rested a fear of “dependence”. It is indeed tough for we rugged individualists to acknowledge that in senior years we may have to be dependent on others for our health and survival.
Wise ones know that life is not simply a matter of independence, nor yet of dependence.
They also know that in our personal, family, community and national lives we are all truly interdependent.