My mother told me a few things in the past month that have me convinced that all upper-middle class Chinese men over age 60 are unhealthily fixated on their own demise. At least in our family.
The following story is the second of a two-story series and pertains to my cousin’s husband’s dad. Here is part 1 of the series.
In China, white-collar workers are required to retire at around age 60. In accordance with this policy, my cousin’s husband’s dad Lao Zhou, who managed a bank, retired a few years ago in his early 60s. Unable to adjust to his new, stress-free life, he fell into a persistent depression that became well-publicized within the family.
At around that time, Lao Zhou’s son and my cousin, who lived in Toronto, had a baby–and a year later, another baby. Since they both worked, they asked Lao Zhou and his wife to move in for a while and help out. It was also well-known within the family that Lao Zhou didn’t like kids, but for the sake of his son, he moved to Toronto with his wife and helped raise his grandkids–until he couldn’t handle it anymore and moved back to China a few months later. His wife stayed on a little longer then rejoined him in China.
Apparently the combination of grandkids followed by idleness was too much for him to handle, so he jumped off a tall building over Memorial Day weekend and died.
“I guess it’s an epidemic among newly retired Chinese men,” my mother assessed. “Once they retire, all the insanity comes right out.” She added, “Thank goodness your dad doesn’t have enough money to retire anytime soon.”
If mental illness is largely hereditary, I am glad, for perhaps the first time ever, that I am the daughter of my tyrannical, infuriatingly Chinese but ultimately very sane parents.