The Sandwich Generation (hold the mayo)

Nice term, right? Wikipedia uses this definition: The Sandwich Generation are a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. Ahh, another baby boomer phenomenon! (nice pic, don’t you think. can someone name that meat for me, please?)

While I am happy to say I am not caring for my parents, I have certainly been helping to navigate their healthcare issues for the past few years. More from a support, research and admin point of view, as I am lucky to have very competent, educated parents. But the simultaneous pressures of aging parents and growing children has become a national dilemma that those of us who are lucky to still have parents at this age face day to day.

As you can tell by now, I like to find the humor in any situation to help me get through it. I have certainly been challenged over the past few years. Hmmm… which story to tell? How about this one:

My dad, the bionic man who is the healthiest sick guy I know, was going in to have his pacemaker upgraded. We liked to think of it as Harvey 2.0. My brother came up to lend support and stay with my mom. Upon arrival at the hospital, my mom is in tears. I figure she is worried. “Oh no”, my brother says over his shoulder while guiding her through the parking lot, “Dad just closed her fingers in the car door.” You MUST be kidding! But, alas, it gets worse. He turns around again to say “And she slipped in the shower and I have not yet assessed her injuries”. My first reaction was, “I left you with them for 24 hours and this is what you come up with?” Luckily he, too has a sense of humor.

Fast forward to the end of the day. We now have mom in the ER, she has broken her rib, hand was just bruised but they admit her to find out why she is falling. Dad? He is in recovery. Bro and I are huddled by the vending machines in the only cell phone zone in the friggin’ place and I watch him point and say, “There goes dad!” I turn to see my father in his gown (butt covered, thank goodness) with an IV poll searching for my mom in the ER. (where’s poppa?) Of course, while I am on a ridiculous business call (…yes, of course I heard your details of revision 19 of the brochure we are doing. no i am not distracted).

Did I mention my kids were home, dinner was not on the horizon for anyone and the poor dog is crossing her legs? And that by the end of the 5-day visit my brother was calling the local liquor store by its first name?

Sandwich indeed! (BTW mayo gives me indigestion)

For those of you who have your own brand of this story (and sadly this is just one of mine), I feel your pain. But we all have to realize how fortunate we are. Hard to understand this sometimes, but we truly ARE the lucky ones. Yes, there are hard times. But my kids, at 15 and 19 actually have all 4 grandparents. 

And that my friends is a gift.

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Filed under aging parents, family, humor, parenting

10 responses to “The Sandwich Generation (hold the mayo)

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog. We are of the pooped out generation, too tired to jump,
    I am a retired geriatrician and have spent many hours with older patients and their families, I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years. My wife and I still provide significant emotional and financial support to my mother-in-law.
    You may find my “sandgen” website find amusing (My wife thinks it’s funny)
    I would like to repost your blog there, with your permission. Thank You

  2. Thanks Phil, the site is great. I know there are a lot of us out there. I know a few people who will love this. And by all means, post away!

  3. ellen

    HMMMMM…at least you get the info…my parents are from the “I didn’t want to trouble you” generation! “Oh, by the way, I thought I’d mention that the emergency crew had to remove the bathroom door to get your dad out” (He was OK, though!)

  4. Boy asked me if I was a Baby Boomer the other night and I was explaining what it meant to be born on the “cusp” of something. Your story reminds me of when my mother, my grandmother, and I were discussing whose impending surgeries was the most critical. (Having to work out the caregiver logistics of that was a treat.)

    My good friend is also going through helping her 96-year-old grandmother (who is local) and jetting back and forth to FLA to aid her parents (one has MS the other is on her third of four joint replacements).

    And yet, I know I am lucky. I’m going to be 45 this summer and have every reason to believe that I am just reaching “middle” age.

  5. ahhh. young as you feel my friend.

  6. 15 and 19 and still all 4 grandparents?! Wow – a mitzvah if I ever heard of one. Thanks for lending humor to a difficult, unavoidable situation. My folks took care of who was going to be taking care a few years ago – a tremendous gift. Oh, I’d guess it was spham (spam plus ham).

  7. You must have had your kids young! Nice you can look on the bright side. It is hard to feel you are letting someone down, the kids with no dinner or -in my case-a practically shut in parent. thanks for sharing

  8. alexandra

    You’ve got it right…if you don’t laugh, you ‘ll cry. So, laugh about it. I loved it. Just loved it. And this is what it is truly like, too. But we are doing the right thing.

  9. Pingback: Blogaversary « i could cry but i don’t have time

  10. Pingback: Time to Cry Tuesday – Priceless « i could cry but i don’t have time

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