Svend is 48 years old. He and his sister grew up in southern Denmark. Their parents provided much comfort and support as he and his sister were growing up. They provided them with food and clothes, love, they looked after Svend and his sister when they were ill, and even helped out financially as Svend moved to Copenhagen to study in his early twenties.
As many of us when we grew up, Svend now feels a need (out of love for his parents) to provide help and assistance to his parents in return for the services previously given to him and his sister as they grew up. Svend tries to help out as much as he can, even if that means a bit of travel once in a while. Svend and his sister try to help out their now aging parents as much as possible with for example grocery shopping, transportation and more labor-intensive activities – like when last summer their parents’ house had to be repainted. Also, it has become more and more common in the last two years for Svend to help out with what appear to be simpler tasks such as changing light bulbs, as his parents do not feel safe anymore standing on a chair or ladder. Sometimes Svend brings his grandson Morten when he travels to his parents. Morten is 8 years old and loves to hear his grand-grandfather talk about ‘the good old days’. However, sometimes he also misses his videogame console and cannot understand why his grand grandpa does not fancy one.
This story shows that reciprocal service exchange may depend on personal relationships and most interestingly: giving and taking may be separated over a long period of time.