The sandwich generation – I have been a member for a good 25 years now, a tasty tidbit situated between two pieces of bread. Think of a roast beef with mushrooms mixed in sour cream inside a baguette. (I had a sandwich like that once at the Portrait Gallery, and it was amazing!) I am the roast beef. The sour cream and mushrooms are tutoring, dancing, volunteering, reading, lunchin with friend. The bottom half of the baguette is my children, their families and my grandchildren. The top half is my Mom, the only one left of that generation of the sandwich.
I had a call last night from the Hospice social worker. I wasn’t expecting it. Well, I had no expectations. She wanted to set up a meeting with Mom and me next week. I can’t be there: our son, David, and his fiancée (known in the family, but unbeknownst to her, as The Lovely Dana) are flying in from Sacramento to visit our daughter and family in Muncie, and we’re going too. (Woot!)
My sister, however, will be visiting my Mother, and she’ll be at the meeting. The social worker talked to me for a bit, asking about our plan for Mom’s inevitable decline and about funeral arrangements. I was unaware that we had plans, but, little by little, with straightforward and gentle questioning, she pulled the answers from me. Turns out, we do have plans. We are good.
The social worker tell me that the nurses rave about Mom and about how amazing it is she lives on her own. It may be amazing to them, but it’s been a pain in the neck for us. She doesn’t want to hire anyone to do anything, and that leaves the three sibs, the closest of whom lives 45 minutes away. Mom’s a tough cookie, though, and she’s trained us well. The nice way to say it is that she is difficult. Like my cat. (No, I didn’t say the cat part to the social worker.) If there is anyone who is able to survive on will power alone, it is my 98 ¾-year-old mother.
David called his Nanny yesterday. Stephanie is on vacation and couldn’t get a call in. She’s concerned she’ll miss her chance for one last conversation, but she still has some time. No one checked the box labeled “Quick and Easy Death.”
So there we are, pulled in one direction and pushed in another. Being part of the sandwich generation keeps your mind and body running around chasing your, or someone’s tail (okay, that begs the sandwich metaphor, but bear with me.) Up to now, I visited my Mom monthly, and we try to go see the grandchildren three or four times a year. We fly to California once a year to see our son. They come our way a couple of times a year. Steve and I have regular activities; he works. The scheduling can be a nightmare. But it’s only painful when the invisible hand of life grabs the baguette and squeezes.