“Yoshiro Minami” (a pseudonym) lost his wife three years ago. The loss was sad, the subsequent loneliness worse. He is 67. Why not, he thought, remarry?
The notion crosses the mind of many senior citizens. A whole industry has grown up around it. Its name is “senior konkatsu,” konkatsu referring to agency-assisted matching.
Shukan Gendai (July 24) tells Minami’s story. The agency he dealt with arranged a party at a Yokohama hotel. Guests circulated, introducing themselves and chatting. Hopefully something would click, a connection be made, a spark lit. In Minami’s case – nothing. He went away disappointed.
On the train home a woman hailed him: “Oh, you were at that party!” They got talking. They lived in the same neighborhood. They shared a taste in classical music. He smiled. Suddenly “Keiko” (as Shukan Gendai calls her) seemed like an old friend.
She’s 54, 13 years younger than he. She’d married at 28, divorced at 35, and lived single ever since. Childless, she worked part-time as a supermarket cashier and cared for her 85-year-old mother, paralyzed as a result of a stroke. It was a hard, cheerless life. Minami’s was little better. Perhaps they could cheer each other up.
Finance was a problem. Keiko’s mother’s care was expensive and her salary small. Minami lived on his pension. Well, they’d manage. It would be tight, but how much does a happy couple need? If Minami turned over part of his pension to her, which he was willing enough to do, they could place the mother in a facility. She’d receive better care there, and the couple would gain a little elbow room.
Minami told his two sons. They were opposed – strongly so. Minami was shocked and disgusted. Were his own children willing to sacrifice their father’s last chance at happiness for the inheritance? It seemed so. The talk turned nasty. They parted in anger.
Never mind, Minami told himself. He had years of life still ahead of him, and he would live them his way, with the woman of his choice. It was his right as a man, and as for his obligations as a father, he had already met those and owed his children nothing further. They were on their own. So was he.
He and Keiko grew closer. They spent more and more time together. He was happy in a way he thought he’d outlived and now rediscovered.
He continued to help defray her mother’s care expenses. The mother died. Suddenly Keiko dropped a bombshell. She was leaving. She’d had enough of him. Meaning: She’d milked him for his money, such as it was, and no longer needed him. Goodbye.
Last month, Minami took a part-time job as a building janitor. Shukan Gendai’s conclusion is true but seems strangely lacking in sympathy: “Love in old age is no simple matter.”© Japan Today