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Sticker Shock at Sixty February 14, 2010

Posted by Ageless Dreamer Foundation in Ageless Dreamer.
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I’ve realized that the majority of my friends – actually, all except one – have lost both their parents. I’m blessed to still have both of mine – Dad is 91 and Mom is 87. And I’m turning sixty. How did that happen?

Dad retired early at the age of 62 because two of his younger siblings had died unexpectedly. He figured he didn’t have much time left so he best go out and enjoy it. Needless to say, almost 30 years later and both he and Mom are doing well health wise. But their financial health is very poor and isn’t improving. And now I’m getting close to his retirement age and something doesn’t feel right.

I remember growing up and hearing frequently from my father that his supervisors and others making a decent wage were “educated dumbbells”. Right now, some of those “educated dumbbells”— his daughters and spouses — have been helping to keep them safe on their tiny financial island. But, for my siblings who’ve been helping them out, the well has dried up since the recession began. The real estate market, which is the business my husband and I work in, has become less than lucrative – actually it feels more like a non-for-profit. Questions are starting to creep into our minds: What will happen to my parents? What will happen to our own retirement? What will happen to our plans to travel this great country in our motor home?

Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have to be concerned for my parents. When raising our own families, we dreamed of the empty nest with open arms. We looked forward to having time to do “our own thing” with the adult children off doing theirs, raising wonderful grandchildren for us to enjoy. And now I’m writing a book about the shock of being inside something predicted a dozen years ago: the Sandwich Generation.

Squished. I’ll say it again: How did that happen? And what in the world are we to do about it? Why does it feel like something is wrong with this picture? Why am I feeling guilty, ungrateful, and selfish writing these words down on paper where someone might read them and be able to assign a less than favorable light on me? Story to be continued.

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