Earlier this year, I went to do a regular catch up with a good friend at his company office in San Francisco. We headed up to the rooftop to give each other our quarterly life updates. After awhile, our conversation slowly shifted towards how old we were growing and what life goals we were hoping to achieve.
He mentioned that he wasn’t that close with his parents and barely saw them in person anymore, but he worked hard every day so that he could eventually buy his mom a home.
As another first generation American who grew up with many cultural + communication differences from my immigrant parents (since I was born and raised in American culture + society), I sympathized with his statement.
We chatted about this some more, and discussed how it would take several years before he’d be able to purchase something like that for his mom.
After some thought, I asked him an intentionally leading question:
“In 5-10 years, when your parents are even older, do you think they’d be happy if you spent your youth working endlessly without seeing them and one day surprised them with a new house?”
He went quiet immediately and looked away from me – I could notice the discomfort in his face and we sat there in silence for a few seconds.
Too often, we assume that money and material goods can substitute for our lack of communication with family and friends.
When your parents are in their final decades of life, the last thing they need is a bigger home or a more luxurious car. Every day they grow older, material possessions mean so much less and their relationships mean so much more.
All they want is more time with you.