I know I’m a horrible late-comer to this blogging thing. Like much in my life, I have thought about this for a long time before actually doing it. I’ve been thinking hard since February 2005, the month my very elderly parents moved back to New York from Florida, ostensibly to be nearer to their adorable then 2 year-old twin grandsons. In reality, so I could take care of them, too.
That was when I realized what it meant to be a part of that often cited “Sandwich Generation” demographic. I am especially so because I am an older parent who is also the daughter of older parents. Common for my generation / locale / socioeconomic milieu. Very uncommon for theirs. Heard often at my suburban elementary school, when my parents came to an event: ”Oh, your grandparents are here.”
I am calling this blog “The Squashed Bologna” because that’s what I started saying, at first laughingly, then later less so, as the responsibilities of intensive elder care bumped up against the all encompassing wonderful maelstrom that is the parenting of young children: “Oh, this is ‘the sandwich generation’, that must be why I feel like the squashed meat in the middle all the time.”
I think what finally pushed me over the brink from thinking to actually writing is the fact that my father is actively, acutely dying right now. It’s a long, slow, painful, process. For us, that is. He’s so out of it, I don’t know quite what it is for him. Very scary I think. He has gone from sleeping all the time (20 hours a day) to being awake and agitated almost all the time.
Even heavily sedated, he will fall asleep, only to bolt awake after less than an hour (and on the bad days, every 5 minutes) sit upright, or even stand up – a feat his doctors claimed impossible for a man at his level of infirmity – and say something like “I have to go, I have to get there!” or “take me, come on let’s go!” Some might say his mind is gone, but I think at a very essential level his inner psyche understands that he is dying, and all the almosts, the might-have-beens, the shoulda-coulda-wouldas of his life are tormenting him.
He has unfinished business and he knows the clock is about to run out. Hell, at nearly 93 he’s already in double over time. So he is compelled, driven to get going, get moving, get it finished, get it done, even if he can’t for the life of him tell me where he wants to go and what he plans to do when he gets there.
My Mother is, needless to say, having a very hard time. She says, so sadly “That’s not Jim anymore, I don’t have a husband anymore.” And she is right. She has, we have, a giant, angry, needy baby; diapers and all.
I got some good news about my Mom today: her wonderful doctor called with the results of her blood work (I’d taken her to the doctor earlier this week for a much needed check-up) and they were “perfectly normal”. Her cholesterol was 115, and heavy on the good stuff – all the more amazing as her main dietary staples are hot chocolate, blueberry muffins and ice cream.
There is so much more to say here, but it’s a start. Tomorrow (or whenever I can get back to this): more about that other slice of bread – my now seven and a half year old twin boys. And did I mention that one of them is on the Autism Spectrum?