I ate breakfast with a Chinese Couple, and we ended up talking for about three hours. I mentioned to them, that on a News report about the Forbes Richest People List, I heard one of the talking heads say: “….China has a new millionaire every 22 minutes.” They both laughed.
“We are BORN millionaires !”
I asked them what they meant. They told me that because of the Chinese “One Child” Policy- all your eggs are in one basket so to speak. They said that when you get married, you are the only child, marrying an only child- so you have all the assets of the four in laws, plus the grandparents, plus your assets. When you have a child, it now has the assets of the Eight great grand parents, four grandparents, the two parents, and when it has a child- it now has the assets of a whole bunch of grown working adults behind it. In just five generations, you have almost 30 incomes supporting just you!!!
They explained to me, that when they got married, they received more than 100 apartments in High Rise Buildings in Shanghai, as wedding gifts! They rent them out to people who actually work for a living. So they have equity, and a cash flow, and that is just from friends and family members. They also have stocks, and bonds, and cars, and what have you.
She said that men and women of her generation, are much like members of the Royal Family. Educated beyond belief (her and her husband had to start learning to play musical instruments at age two! They are fluent in Chinese, Russian, English, and French. They had to Master Calculus by age ten (We don’t even teach it until HS!) and they are expected to get at least a Masters Degree. So, they are spoiled in one way, beyond belief- in another, they are driven to excellence- and forced to succeed.
She said if you go by some of those big buildings, they only have 10% occupancies, because there aren’t enough workers to afford to pay rent, and most of the Units are owned by the latest child. Wow. This couple was doing four two week cruises, each in a different part of the world- so they could get a taste of each continent. No money worries, and they are enjoying it immensely.
When they took the ukelele classes, they practiced every day for four hours- force of habit. They guy who teaches it, says they are already at the level, where they are pushing him! In just two weeks. They told me that they cannot fail to learn- it would be socially unacceptable where they are from. Can you imagine the pressure to have Master an instrument in just two weeks, while on vacation? Because of peer pressure? Sheesh….
Okay, then I talked to a couple in their nineties (he is 95 , she is 91) He was at Pearl Harbor, and is in the ship documentary about it, they made him give a talk- and he put on his old Navy Hat, and talked for about an hour and half. Anyways, I was eating lunch with them, and when he left to go get something …she said this to me:
“You know Kevin, I have been married to that man for more than 70 years, and I wish he would let us die. ”
I said: “What?” ( I can be quite clever at times.)
“Kevin, I am tired. I want to rest. He needs me, that is the only reason I am still alive. He just is one of those folks, who never wants to die. I was ready years ago. If it wasn’t for him, I know I could just go peacefully in my sleep.”
He came back with his tea, and we chatted about other things. I didn’t bring up what her and I talked about. I guess at a certain time of your life, it does get (pardon the pun) old. She is living because she is needed. Lots to think about there. Because one of my Aunts, said something very similar to Kathy one time. So, one lady at 91 is ready to go, and yet another guy at 95, isn’t.
I am learning so much about aging – and the varying attitudes that go along with aging – some days, you have fire and vim and vigor, other days, well, why get out of bed? LOL Some days you can leap out, and other days, you just can’t get out of bed, not because you don’t want to, but because of a cramp, a bad back, or you just don’t have the energy. LOL
And lastly, a guy in a wheelchair came over and thanked me for making eye contact when I said : “Good Morning.” He told me that most people don’t even look at him, or his three buddies ( I think I told you about them in an earlier email, the four double amputees, who are traveling in a group). Well, that led to another conversation. And this is a part of that one:
“You know Kevin, when you become disabled, the able bodied partner gets a new role- caretaker. And man, that screws everything up, because they have to switch back and forth, between the professionalism of a nurse: cold, clinical, and routine; and the quiet soul support of a loving partner. If you aren’t careful, you stop being a couple, and become Nurse and Patient. No joy, no laughter, no quiet moments. One is demanding and has needs, the other has to meet those needs, and hide their own.
Luckily, all four of us couples figured this out after a few years. It made all of us men become more independent. We wanted Wives, not Nurses. Our Wives wanted to be Wives , not Nurses. So, we forced our selves to stop the self pity (Think about that for a second my friends). We took over control of our lives again. We made sure that physical therapy did not take place in our home, but at a gym, or rehab place. Our home is our home!
We forced the insurance companies to give us actual Nurses for our recovery periods from operations and the like- our Wives were freed from 99% of the Caretaker roles. About the only thing they have to do, that we can’t, is put the wheelchair in the trunk (boot, for you Europeans) of the car.
We started dating our Wives again, and learning how to match up what physical things we can do, with what they need. For example, we all have pools now. Because in the water, legs aren’t really necessary- and we can play with our wives. We all have hot tubs, because it is very close to a bath, and what woman doesn’t like a long luxurious bath?
We watch movies a lot, so they can cuddle on the couch, and we all play Canasta once a week, rotating between the four houses. ”
I was amazed. He told me it took them all years to figure out what was going on, and how to fix, or find an alternative to correct their relationships. Trying to put all the things he and his wife told me, in a short email, well, I can only hit the highlights. I think I will close with this statement he made.
“You know Kevin when you stop thinking about you, and start thinking about her, she gets more of what she wants, and you get more of what you need. ”
Isn’t that the truth?