The Things We Do For Love: Ebb Tide

motherandchild400x504I am realizing more and more that I do not like being the meat in the middle of the sandwich generation.

It is better, however, than not having a slice of bread on the TOP of the sandwich at all.

Being a desperately needed caretaker for someone who is supposed to be someone who takes of me, makes me grateful, humble, appreciative, frustrated, weepy, exhausted, sad, frightened, apprehensive, terrified, admiring, awe-inspired, disgusted, and did I mention “humble?” and all the words that match these in any thesaurus you might have lying around.

This goes against the natural order of things; our parents take care of us – we don’t take care of them.  We take care of our children – they don’t take care of us.

And yet, having this order reversed is, in a way, a kind of giving back, for all the sacrifices, all the sharing, all the care and concern and love and guidance and teaching and such. . . it’s not that we “owe” our parents; it’s that we now understand more about what they did for us, and wish to express that knowledge with loving kindness and care.

My mother is in good health right now, for which I thank God, fasting.  I will not be ready to give her up for a long, long time, say perhaps when I’m in my late eighties?

My MIL is the same age, and yet, her tide is ebbing.  We will never be ready to be without her. I love her.   I don’t like it when the tide ebbs; no matter how much treasure is left on the beach, it’s never enough to replace what we lost.  And yet, all aspects of the tide are beautiful, and it is also very true that there is a season, turn, turn, turn. . . .

I blame the moon.  Damn gravity.

No, I do not like being the meat in the middle of the sandwich generation.  I don’t like it a bit.  But I’m glad of the chance to be of service.  And, I’m glad there is still an intact sandwich.

(Are you watching, children?  This is how it’s done.  Take notes, if you would, please.  Put them in a safe place, for I hope you won’t need to use them until YOU’RE in your late eighties.)

You laugh, and think that’s a long way off and needn’t be bothered with for ages, but to tell you the truth, my loves, turn around twice and you’re there.

It’s an Einsteinian thing.


Comments

The Things We Do For Love: Ebb Tide — 8 Comments

  1. Sadly, I’ve had the misfortune of watching my dad and mom deal with this right now with my grandparents on both sides now. As someone who’s worked with the aging and disabled, I’m lucky enough to also be a source of comfort and information to them right now, something I’m so glad about because it seems to relieve some tension to just have real information from someone they trust. It doesn’t make watching my grandparents going through this any easier, and some of us grandchildren are helping as much as we can. I took care of my paternal grandparents every other day, and overnight, for a couple years, and I wouldn’t trade those nights of learning more about them and being with them for anything in the world. None of my cousins have the insight into my grandparents that I have, and I love the family stories I’ve been privy to that they may never know. My family history is so rich and important to me. When my dad and uncles asked if I would do it, I immediately said I would because, honestly, I wasn’t sure if anyone else would agree to take that much time out of their social lives to provide some basic health care to our matriarch and patriarch. Much of who I am comes from my grandparents, my grandmother especially, and I wanted to give even a small part back to them.

    I’m not writing very well tonight, so I apologize if that sounds stilted or self-back-patting-ish or something like that. I just…I just have seen things in my grandparents, as they get older, that I wish I had never seen (behavioral, etc.), but I also have come to understand who they are so much better than I would have if I just lived my life without giving time to just make sure they were okay when they needed it the most. I worry all the time about getting a call from “back home” and hearing bad news, because–to be honest? I don’t know how I’m going to handle that. I’m the bottom of the sandwich, but I feel as though I’ve been in the loaf with the top half so long and that the top half has done so much to shape who I am that…I can’t imagine the sandwich without my counterpart. I don’t want to. This is one kind of sandwich I don’t want to be open-faced.

    I’m not laughing, Mamacita, and I know that it’s not really a long time off. Not at all (for either the top piece of bread or the filling–time is way too fleeting).

    (And I’m reading a really good biography of Einstein right now. No reason to mention that other than you mentioned Einstein.)

  2. Sadly, I’ve had the misfortune of watching my dad and mom deal with this right now with my grandparents on both sides now. As someone who’s worked with the aging and disabled, I’m lucky enough to also be a source of comfort and information to them right now, something I’m so glad about because it seems to relieve some tension to just have real information from someone they trust. It doesn’t make watching my grandparents going through this any easier, and some of us grandchildren are helping as much as we can. I took care of my paternal grandparents every other day, and overnight, for a couple years, and I wouldn’t trade those nights of learning more about them and being with them for anything in the world. None of my cousins have the insight into my grandparents that I have, and I love the family stories I’ve been privy to that they may never know. My family history is so rich and important to me. When my dad and uncles asked if I would do it, I immediately said I would because, honestly, I wasn’t sure if anyone else would agree to take that much time out of their social lives to provide some basic health care to our matriarch and patriarch. Much of who I am comes from my grandparents, my grandmother especially, and I wanted to give even a small part back to them.

    I’m not writing very well tonight, so I apologize if that sounds stilted or self-back-patting-ish or something like that. I just…I just have seen things in my grandparents, as they get older, that I wish I had never seen (behavioral, etc.), but I also have come to understand who they are so much better than I would have if I just lived my life without giving time to just make sure they were okay when they needed it the most. I worry all the time about getting a call from “back home” and hearing bad news, because–to be honest? I don’t know how I’m going to handle that. I’m the bottom of the sandwich, but I feel as though I’ve been in the loaf with the top half so long and that the top half has done so much to shape who I am that…I can’t imagine the sandwich without my counterpart. I don’t want to. This is one kind of sandwich I don’t want to be open-faced.

    I’m not laughing, Mamacita, and I know that it’s not really a long time off. Not at all (for either the top piece of bread or the filling–time is way too fleeting).

    (And I’m reading a really good biography of Einstein right now. No reason to mention that other than you mentioned Einstein.)

  3. I too, adore my mother in law. Though she is only in her early sixties, we see “signs” that Alzheimers or Dementia is lurking. I am the daughter in law who lives the closest, she has no daughters…so I know when the time comes, much of her care will fall to me…and I will consider it an honor, no matter how difficult it will be. After all, she did me the favor of producing a “well raised Southern boy” who is a wonderful husband and Father…caring for her is a way of saying Thank You, for a priceless gift.

  4. I too, adore my mother in law. Though she is only in her early sixties, we see “signs” that Alzheimers or Dementia is lurking. I am the daughter in law who lives the closest, she has no daughters…so I know when the time comes, much of her care will fall to me…and I will consider it an honor, no matter how difficult it will be. After all, she did me the favor of producing a “well raised Southern boy” who is a wonderful husband and Father…caring for her is a way of saying Thank You, for a priceless gift.

  5. I was in your place a few years ago. I preferred to call it the “peanut butter” because, very often, I felt swished and smashed into the bread and it’s just easier for peanut butter to do that sort of thing. I felt even more isolated because I am a good ten years younger than you and my children, much younger than yours. In addition, I have no siblings nearby.

    I also often felt I’d given birth to a 70 year old woman! I found that thought amusing and many times, it saved me from feeling the real despair that was lurking beneath the surface. Although my mother and I hadn’t always gotten along when she was cognizant, having to strip our relationship down to such a basic level helped me greatly, even as I was suffering. I learned real understanding from her and she from me.

    Sadly, on my side of the family (my mother-in-law is still alive), the top half of the bread from my sandwich is now gone. I hope my kids were paying attention, but they were very young when our journey began, so I’m not sure. I guess I’ll find out…

  6. I was in your place a few years ago. I preferred to call it the “peanut butter” because, very often, I felt swished and smashed into the bread and it’s just easier for peanut butter to do that sort of thing. I felt even more isolated because I am a good ten years younger than you and my children, much younger than yours. In addition, I have no siblings nearby.

    I also often felt I’d given birth to a 70 year old woman! I found that thought amusing and many times, it saved me from feeling the real despair that was lurking beneath the surface. Although my mother and I hadn’t always gotten along when she was cognizant, having to strip our relationship down to such a basic level helped me greatly, even as I was suffering. I learned real understanding from her and she from me.

    Sadly, on my side of the family (my mother-in-law is still alive), the top half of the bread from my sandwich is now gone. I hope my kids were paying attention, but they were very young when our journey began, so I’m not sure. I guess I’ll find out…

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