A friend was telling me about a colleague's wife she goes walking with. The colleague and his wife are much older, and starting to think about where they will spend their final years. They have children, but they all live in other countries, at least one long haul flight away, so the parents know they need to sort things out themselves.
As my friend (also Not Kidding) said to me, "so much for having kids to look after you in your old age." And yes, we laughed.
I've just heard a man on the "Proud Parents" section on a radio show I listen to regularly. I roll my eyes a little at the name of the section, and the existence for it, but although I've only heard it twice, each time it has been a proud father talking about daughters, daughters who live on the other side of the world. You can hear that they miss having their children near them.
Still, if those parents needed their children, you can be pretty sure they would be on the first flight home. And the elderly couple can delay making a decision about where to live, because they have the back up of their children, even though they are far flung. They want to leave the decision until they "have to," but don't realise that that will be too late. When you "have to" move, it means you're not capable of staying in your existing accommodation. Which means that you also may not be capable of organising or making the move itself. They have people who can help. We don't.
I'm not sure even parents with children who live far away ever understand quite how isolated and alone many of us feel. Sure, they feel the absence of the children in their lives, and that must be very hard. But do they understand the finality of the absences we feel? I wonder.
Well ... that took a gloomy detour from what I had originally intended to write. Which was simply that we may have more in common with some parents than we realise. Except, of course, that too often, we don't.