I think we all know there is no guarantee of this, as evidenced by the scores of lonely elders (who have grown children) rotting away in nursing homes, pining for visitors.
The flip side of this myth that rarely gets discussed is that many times it is the parents who end up caring for their kids well into adulthood, long after they should be gone and taking care of themselves. Just this morning, as I made way up to the train platform on my way to work, I encountered a lovely older woman who struck up a conversation with me. She asked me about the train schedule and I provided some information to her about how often the train runs. Since she seemed a little unsure of herself, I asked her if this was her first time riding the train to work. She said no, but it's been many years since she last rode it. She told me she is 65 and is just going back to work to help her grown son who lost his job and moved back in with her. She told me he is having "problems" and the way she said this led me to believe he was having mental health or substance abuse issues. I complimented her on being such a devoted mom in helping her son this way. She said with a resigned sigh, "well, that's what it is to be a mom. You just do what you have to do and make it work."
I looked into her pretty made-up eyes and I saw defeat and sadness. I could tell she did not want to be on that platform and she did not want to be heading to work. This was supposed to be the golden twilight of her life - the time to relax and reap the rewards of so many years of hard work. Instead she was all dressed up in business attire, trying to figure out train schedules. I felt sorry for her.
Sadly this type of situation is not uncommon, especially in the current economy. With the unemployment rate at record high levels and record numbers of foreclosures, more and more displaced workers are having to rely on their elderly parents for help and support.
The responsibilities of parenthood never end.