The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female part-time worker in my 40s. I have a problem with my stingy grandfather, who’s in his 80s.
He’s been living alone since my grandmother died a year ago. He regularly paid his pension premiums for the corporate pension program, so he now can lead a comfortable life.
But he never pays a penny when he eats out with my parents. On the hot days this summer, he didn’t use an air-conditioner. When my grandmother was alive, she seemed to have been uncomfortable without using an air-conditioner.
When I give him a lift to and from the hospital, he only gives me a brief word of thanks. He treats me like a taxi service.
I have three children, including a college student, and I’m not in good shape financially. My parents, who are in their 60s, also get by through part-time jobs and other means.
My parents use money unstintingly, even though they don’t have much, so they seem incompatible with my grandfather. I’ve come to dislike him. Whenever I call him, thinking he must feel lonely, I feel sad.
I need your advice about how I should treat my grandfather, who’s becoming more isolated.
B, Hyogo Prefecture
Dear Ms. B:
Four generations of a family live nearby and help each other. People these days can seldom have such living arrangements.
Your family can feel at ease even if something happens in such an environment. I rather envy your situation.
You wrote you feel sad about your grandfather’s stinginess, and are worried about his loneliness. But I wonder if your grandfather, who lives alone, really feels lonely.
Different things make different people comfortable. Some people feel safest if they don’t have to worry about money, while others feel comfortable having close contact with other people.
Some feel good letting things go, and others enjoy keeping things inside, to some extent. Some wealthy people may get upset when the amount in their bankbook is decreasing even slightly.
Your grandfather chooses to lead a free life alone while saving money, and not to spend much to keep in contact with others.
Because he has many relatives, I recommend you have casual contact with him, such as by inviting him to family birthday parties and seeing how he’s doing.
Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher