At least going back a generation or more a pattern of behavior has become established in the colder areas of the country that once people reach retirement age they head south to Florida or Arizona and live out their days in a retirement community. And I suppose if you are sufficiently wealthy this would not prevent you from supporting and staying in touch with your descendants back North.
But in today’s world of limited opportunities and constrained resources another choice is to use your retirement and the resources you have accrued to reinforce and enhance your family’s opportunities. Think about how difficult it is for a family with two working parents to provide the opportunities and attention that their kids need to grow up right. If they manage to check their kids’ homework and get them to sports practices and games that’s probably taking up their whole free time left over from work and sleep.
Now as touched on earlier in this series it is much to be preferred that children have a stay at home mom to take care of them and make sure they’re staying out of trouble but even then, kids should have a lot more of their family’s time and attention. For instance, who says a father is the only one who can bring the kids to a baseball game or a museum or a movie. Why can’t grandpa do that? And grandma is about a million times better at babysitting babies than a 15-year-old girl who will spend all her time on the phone while the baby sits glued to Sesame Street.
With respect to school work many of the baby boomers are STEM professionals and can not only help out with homework but can provide real world insights to children on what career paths make sense and which are dead ends. For instance, if one of my grandsons asked me whether he should major in computer science or intersectional gender studies I think I’d be able to give him a very clear answer!
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Even the tradition of having the Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house does more for bonding the family than an occasional phone call to Florida provides. And it may provide the opportunity for a request for financial or other help that otherwise wouldn’t happen.
And what are you sacrificing if you forego the condo in Florida. Playing shuffleboard with other old people that you don’t even know? Missing out on skin cancer? Sure, maybe your arthritis won’t hurt quite as much but don’t forget those alligators that are waiting to pick you off at the mail box. And how does that stack up against teaching your grandkids how to fly a kite or telling them about the time their great-great grandfather shot it out with armed robbers from the running board of a car.
And there may even be a payback for you besides satisfaction. When the day comes when you are against it and your time is up maybe there will be someone to shed a tear and say a kind word at your bedside instead of just a text message from up North to say goodbye.