I AM A frustrated grandfather at age 69. My only son is 45 and well-off in New York City but has remained “happily single”.
I don’t blame Norbert for having preferred a life of “single bliss”. He could not forget how her mom and I had lived hard, foregoing leisure and pleasure, to see him through school. He would not want to replicate his dad.
Since I wanted to be happy in 1972 at age 22, I withdrew my entire bank savings, married my fiancée – to whom I had been engaged for barely two years – and spent it for a lavish wedding party. I was cocky, confident that I had the means to ride through the rough roads ahead.
Little did I know that I would not be as happy as I had fantasized. Any married couple knows that jumping to the double bed without substantial savings is like going to war without arms.
A series of expensive events buried me deep in debt within the first three years of my married life: frequent hospitalizations of my wife due to epilepsy, a miscarriage of what could have been our first baby, the successful birth of our only son and her ectopic pregnancy that necessitated surgery.
After only nine years, we broke up and had to start eking a living all over again.
On the bright side, having sired only one son, I managed to see him through college.
But if I were to live my bachelorhood again, I would no longer be like the grasshopper; I would be like the ant that gathers food for the rainy days.
No wonder, when the long-pending Reproductive Health Bill was still being debated in Congress, I wrote a supportive column. Aside from personal experience, I can cite many other examples why early wedding is not the same as wedded bliss.
One such case is that of a once beautiful cousin of mine. The last time I saw her, I momentarily thought she was someone else. Her sparkling eyes had dulled. Her pinky and chubby cheeks had paled and sunk. Her body curves had become a “thin stick.”
“How are you?” I asked while shifting my gaze at a thin boy tugging at her skirt.
“I am generously blessed,” she quipped in a gravelly voice that betrayed a cover-up. “God gave me six children.”
“Why so many?” I insisted, knowing that her husband had no regular job.
“So that when my man and I grow old, they will be there to take good care of us.”
Not wanting to hurt her, I checked my tongue. I could have disagreed. If a couple could not enjoy a healthy and comfortable middle age, chances are they would be too sick to enjoy old age. Worse, their children would not even be around in their dying moments, since they would have also married with another generation of kids to worry over.
The familiar vicious cycle merits serious attention: Parents work themselves to death to secure the future of their children; the children marry early and also exhaust themselves at work, scrimping to see their own children through school; and as the cycle goes on from one generation to the next, the “bright future” never comes.
I often wonder whether my only son harbors the phobia of repeating what his parents had gone through, or whether he simply prefers to chart his own future unmarried and unmolested.
I wish, though, that he would find a fiancée in New York, keep working there for better income and transform me from pa to grandpa. ([email protected]/PN)