Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Sandwich Generation... something I have often read about but not experienced--until now. While I am not exactly in the middle of an older and younger generation, I seem to be in the middle of an older and same generation, both needing me right now.

My dad has always been very independent and has continued to live an active life in the twelve years since my mother died. She was sick off and on for several years before she died, and he took care of her, so unlike many men of his generation, he was accustomed to caring for himself and generally living his life on his own terms. However, due to a series of health setbacks over the last several months, he now finds himself depending on his kids to help him. My brother spent a month with him during rehab from knee surgery last fall, and my sister and I have been taking turns spending days with him since early December. We are all glad to be able to help out when we are needed. He very much wants to get to where he is able to walk without a walker and take care of his own meals and drive to his own appointments. The problem is that every time he thinks things are getting better, something else happens. Right now he is in the hospital because of some swelling and a high clotting time. It was supposed to be for 2 or 3 days, but it's been 6 so far. He will have to regain the little strength he had all over again.

I have enjoyed spending time with Dad and making sure he has his meals three days a week, while my sister covers the other four. But in December, Terry and I made plans to go to Florida for a month next week, our first real vacation since I retired almost 5 years ago. When we made the reservation and non-refundable deposit, we thought Dad would be fine before we left. He's not, and now I will be leaving my sister with the whole responsibility while I'm gone, leaving me feeling somewhat guilty. It's not feasible to postpone, and I'm really ready for a trip and warm weather at the beach. Not only that, Terry would NOT be happy if I wanted to postpone. He already is getting tired and resentful of the time I am away from home each week. He was patient for longer than I actually expected, but now he thinks it is time to either pressure Dad to do more for himself or hire someone to be there to help him. He bases his feelings on the way his mom behaved and how she enjoyed being dependent on people. She always rather expected that people would take care of her, and when you gave her sympathy, she became even more pitiful. So Terry rarely gave her any, and then she did act better. However, I don't think Dad is anything like Terry's mother. It makes him uncomfortable to be dependent like this. His father was somewhat of a burden to him and my mom, and that's the last thing he wants to be. I believe Dad will be more than happy to take over his own care as soon as possible, but he has to regain his strength first, and if things don't quit happening to slow him down, that may be awhile.

I don't know how all this will play out. I hope by the time we get home April 1 that Dad is living independently again, for everyone's sake, but we will have to see. Meanwhile, I am going to the beach next week, and for me, anyway, life is good...


Anonymous said...

I think it will all be fine. Peggy doesn't work...there's no reason she can't pitch in more while you're gone. And, if he's not back up to speed by the time you get back, she can take a break. Isn't that what families do--help each other out as needed?

And you're right...he's nothing like Grandma Rausch. I'm not sure why daddy can't see that...

Susie said...

Hi Nancy,
I can totally relate to "the sandwich generation" having cared for grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.
Do take some time for yourself and Terry. I can relate to your feelings, but didn't always follow my own advice. If you try to never step away, pretty soon you won't be able to step away.
Enjoy the beach and your time together.

yui said...

Hi! I'm behind you.
Good luck!

Judy said...

You should go on your vacation and enjoy yourself. Like someone else said, maybe you can do a little more when you get back. I am sorry about your dad but I am sure he will understand since he has been in the situation of taking care of someone. Hope you have a great vacation. Maybe, it will be warmer here when you get back. I am sure ready for some warm weather!

vanphil said...

I enjoy your blog and agree that you and your husband need the vacation. one of the most important things for those in the sandwich is to take care of their own physical and mental health. You are lucky to have someone who is able to take over while you're away.

Please visit my blog which is devoted to recognizing the heroes in the sandwich