The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 70s. I’m worried about how I should cope with my daughter.
My mother, who was over 100 years old, was in a care facility but died in March of this year. Now I live on my own.
After I got divorced, I returned to my parents’ house and asked my mother to raise my daughter. My tone was harsh, I didn’t listen to people much, and I used to talk only when it was convenient. I was always scolded for this by my mother.
After my mother died, I’ve been treated the same way by my daughter, who is in her 50s and lives nearby. Now that I have been left alone and I feel very lonely in everything, my daughter’s attitude to me is so hard that I cannot endure it.
I know this is karma for me, but I don’t know what to do in the future.
I’m thinking about whether I should move into a care facility that I can afford. I sent this letter to ask for some advice.
D, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. D:
When getting old, you will gradually lose a variety of things, such as mental and physical abilities, human relationships and economic power. It’s essentially lonely. At the age of 86, I think about it every day.
Enduring this feeling is the true flavor of getting old, and I view it a bit masochistically, because this is the first time that many people are able to live such long lives.
Your mother died in your 70s. This is also the first time in history for parents and children to spend such a long time together, and they have to find new ways of thinking about their parent-child relationship in a society where people have such long lifespans.
You were harsh toward your daughter, who is in her 50s now, and toward your late mother, and you understand that is rebounding on you. It’s admirable that you realize that.
My home situation seems similar, but I’m highly motivated, and feel like creating “an old mother alliance which will never give in to daughters.” But I’m always trying to be kinder in my speech.
I’m grateful to my daughter, who does most of the housework, even though she doesn’t really want to, and lectures me in my best interest. It’s important to steadily maintain the relationship, quarreling in a friendly way and relying on her while being independent.
Keiko Higuchi, critic