We had just finished several waves at our local pool’s sauna. At one point in our conversation I brought up the Lindy Effect and its relation to the storied tradition of ancient Roman bathhouses, and how Romans of all social classes spent their time amidst those hot vapors, discussing philosophy and politics until the sun set. It was a state of semi-permanent retirement. Something about the cleansing energies of hot steam that makes conversation more fluid.
“Odd that Yerba Mate has a similar effect,” I remarked.
My Argentine friend agreed. Yet, he drinks that Amazonian God juice twice a day and still attests to the power of sauna. That says a lot.
We drove down our city’s main boulevard on our way home. As he watched the apartment complexes that lined the road, he seemed to notice something foreboding.
“How many old folks homes are there on this street anyway? How many couples toss their older family members into those cheap apartments? It’s like they just let them rot.” We counted 8.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, law required that children care for their aging parents. The punishment for neglecting them was loss of citizenship. Senior care was ultimately the responsibility of the elder’s family, and the arrangement did not change much for 2,000 years.
Today, we contend with the Industrial Retirement Complex. They want us to die alone. Hence, millions of square feet of wood-panel prisons for grey-hairs writhe from the soil a block away from every Denny’s in America.
North Americans generally resent their elderly. It’s not like they hate their parents but part of them do wish that they would die sooner. I see this predominantly in Anglo and Nordic families, who have little patience for the burden that is chronic illness. I don’t mean to berate an entire race, but hopefully they find themselves soon. Tell me, in which countries was assisted suicide first made legal?
The Industrial Retirement Complex Praises Youthful Degeneracy and Forces Early Retirement on the Wise
I suppose extreme prioritization of youth is a hallmark of a hyper-consumerist culture that cannot be easily undone. I knew this from a young age. Attitudes toward elder care in North America really helped me understand my place in the multicultural Canadian social fabric quite early. As a Croatian, I always felt more at home with my Indian and Chinese friends when I went to play at their houses after school. I would always look forward to treats from my adopted Nana and Zuzu, and I would listen intently to their stories of the old country.
I don’t think I could ever marry a white girl if she were not Slavic. It’s just not worth the risk. My future wife must be comfortable with the possibility that my parents might one day live with us. If they happen to get very sick, I’ll hire a full-time on-site nurse. The most important thing, however, is that they are with their family, and that they and their grandchildren are given the opportunity to get to know each other before they pass.
My family come from powerful Ice Age stock, so this is not something I worry about often. As ancient Mammoth hunters, we just say no to cancer. Heart disease in 90th decade of life is the main culprit. In fact, I am 27 and lucky enough to have 3 surviving grandparents. Martin (81), Marija (75) and Vido (89). Nada was 78. God bless her soul. She rests in the Eternal Selo now.
My Grandparents Don’t Agree With Retirement
My grandparents never really retired. They are still building things and chasing Mammoth in the Old Country. Patriarch Martin had two steel hips installed but is still anxious he won’t complete his final projects. He takes double shot glass of extra virgin olive oil from the Croatian hillside every morning and then keeps running. Old folks home? Retirement? Vat mean?
We throw gender-reveal parties and baby showers and celebrate new life, but mourn and complain about those who seem to be leaving us shortly. Let’s reverse this.
We stress out about our children as soon as they begin to teethe and toss flying turds down the hallway, but we spend thousands of dollars on lavish bedroom decor, pink or blue, before they even confirm their traits on the Character Creation screen of Life™.
On the contrary, we should treat our kids like the little savings account-draining imps they are. Let’s dispense with childhood pleasantries and teach them instead to drive tractors and bale hay, set up mining rigs and process Bitcoins.
In the meantime, let’s honor our elders, congratulate them on a long life lived, absorb their wisdom—for they are treasures—and make sure to say our long farewells while they live among us.