Although this next post may not necessarily be culturally based, it does highlight a major difference between the way Ms B and I view our parents.
Ms B's mother is in great health and is a very intergral and active part of Ms B's life, and as a result mine and our son's. She is also quite elderly.
Although Ms B and her mother have on the surface a close relationship, Ms B has made it clear that as soon as her mother becomes a burden, through illness or age, she will send her back to China, either to her sister or to a nursing home.
This is a very pragmatic approach, and oddly, her mother is in complete agreement with this.
Now Ms B claims to have been raised in a very close family, and this is borne out of the ongoing contact she maintains with the rest of her family, but something about the pragmatism of these relationships doesn't sit well with me.
They tend to represent relationships of convenience, which in my world is the anti-thesis of the foundation for family. In any case, it has worked well for their whole family so far, and given that there has never been any family inheritence to fight over, the relationships have remained symbiotic and mutually beneficial.
Of course, this is the easy part. If or when her mother ages to a point where she herself needs ongoing help, the pressures on the whole famly will be compounded. Although I have some work colleagues who have easily transitioned their parent's into a nursing home facility, the emphasis on family within the Chinese culture, I expect, would make this a more difficult proposition.
Only time will tell, and although my mother-in-law is in great shape for her age, both mentaly and physically, she does have a worriesome tremor and increasing rigidity in her body, which is looking more and more like Parkinson's disease.
For those who know about this disease, it is progressive and insidious, and takes a terrible toll on the whole family in terms of the level of care that is required. For my mother-in-law's sake, I hope that this care, no matter how difficult, is provided by us, and not a nursing home. It just wouldn't be right.