This week has been more challenging than most. My 35-year-old daughter, Angie, has been having back problems and had to go for an outpatient surgery procedure in an attempt to reduce the numbness, tingling and sharp pain she has been experiencing. Her and my son-in-law, Bob, needed to leave around 5:30 am for the surgery center so I took what was supposed to be a “mental health” day to get my 3 grandchildren off to school. Honestly, getting the 5 and 7 year olds up, fed, dressed and on the school bus was not difficult. The only near miss we had was when after getting his coat on, back pack in place and lunch in hand, Weston had to use the bathroom and it was just minutes before his bus was to arrive. Thinking back on it now is pretty funny as we hurried to reverse the process we just went through to get him ready, having him run to the bathroom while I am saying “hurry up” over and over again, and then “saddling up” again to make it onto the bus in time. Next was waiting on “Miss Carley” , the princess to wake up. We had decided she would have a day with me instead of going to preschool. All of this came together much better than expected except that I had not slept much the night before since I was on Carley’s bottom bunk.
Child care, even though there was a lot to do, was the best part of the week. The very next day, my cousin called and my beloved aunt, who was 89, had fallen suddenly ill. They had taken her to the doctor, returned home only to have to call the ambulance when she had so much pain that she started vomiting. The hospital did admit her, thank God, and began to run tests. Her pain was excruciating. She began picking at her IV, pulling it out and becoming increasingly agitated. Blood test after blood test showed her white blood cells (WBC’s) were elevating and her red blood cells (RBC’s) which carry oxygen to her body, continued to decrease. My aunt had developed acute leukemia. We knew immediately it was fatal. “How long does she have?” we all asked the doctor. He told us several weeks but we looked at each other knowing it would only be days. We took her home, where she wanted to be, and were able to get hospice to be present 24 hours every day. This was such a relief to my cousins who had exhausted themselves by taking turns staying with her. She was made comfortable with pain medication but it was still very difficult to watch. On the day before she died, I bent down and gave her a kiss on her forehead and told her I loved her. Unbelievably, she opened her eyes, looked at me and said I love you. I very, very nearly began to sob but controlled myself as to not upset her. This was a terribly sad time for all of us.
Helping to care for both the younger generations and older generations of my family simultaneously makes me the pastrami in the middle of the generational sandwich. I love caring for people and helping them is who I am and what I believe in. Making a person’s life full of purpose and having them feel good about themselves gives me the most wonderful of feelings. Of course, I have known for a long time that I am part of what is commonly being coined the “Sandwich Generation” which makes me laugh. The humor I see in this is that we are certainly not the first generation with these circumstances and won’t be the last. I vow and so should you to keep your sense of humor, make someone smile everyday and know that when you are helping someone else you are giving yourself a gift.