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TROUBLESHOOTER / My grandfather dressed me while I was sleeping

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female employee in my 20s. I’m seeking advice regarding my grandfather, who lives with me.

Beginning when I was in a two-year college, I’ve been living in a condominium owned by my grandfather on my mother’s side. I began earning my own living this April. My grandfather isn’t in such good health, so I live with him partly to look after him. Living with him helps me financially, but I don’t know how to interact with him. I don’t like to come home but rather I want to stay over at my office.

I don’t have my own room, so I move the kotatsu table in the living room aside to prepare a space for my futon when I go to sleep. The other day, I was exhausted from work and fell asleep topless after taking a bath with only the futon covering me.

In the next morning, I was wearing pajamas although I didn’t remember putting them on. I asked my grandfather about it, and he insisted that he didn’t dress me, but I felt sure that he did.

My grandfather may still see me like a child, but I’m already an adult. He keeps treating me like a baby, and I can’t stand that I have no privacy.

D, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. D:

I think the living room where you’re sleeping may have been a special place for your grandfather in one way or another for a long time. The space may be furnished with a TV, telephone or a bookshelf. He might have spent time there jotting things down at the kotatsu or sipping sake while watching TV at night.

And then you suddenly started living with him. Your mother may have easily thought that it would perfect for her daughter to live with him as she can also look after him. Your grandfather’s privacy has gone. On top of that, you are a tremendously sloppy woman who — although already a twenty-something adult — sleeps like a log, topless, right after taking a bath.

You are dressed so that you won’t catch a cold, but you fly off the handle at being treated like a child. It added insult to injury for your grandfather, who had already felt consrained by living with you. I think something’s wrong with you as you don’t even notice when you are helped putting on pajamas. In short, you and your mother have only been depending on him, haven’t you?

Take this incident as an opportunity. Tell your grandfather your gratitude over the years and start caring for yourself. Living in a share house is one option today, as you can maintain your privacy, and the rent is relatively cheap. If your grandfather began needing nursing care, that would primarily be your mother’s responsibility.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from May 24 issue) Speech

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