Posted in Family, Me

The Sandwich Generation

Life in Coronaville continues. Jim is still employed, I’m still mostly not (before I worked 20 hours per week. Last two weeks I worked five hours total). Still, we do not NEED my salary, so I can continue to be thankful for that mercy as well.

In the midst of everything, my sister and I find ourselves starting to need to step up with our parents. My brother lives many hours away (HOURS AND HOURS), where my sister and I live about 10-15 minutes each from our parents.

My dad is 88 and my mom is 87. They have been blessed, for the most part, with good physical and mental health. A few years ago my dad had a kidney removed and he never really went back to his “old self”. Last year my mother had a hip replacement. and that took quite a toll on her as well. My sister is a few years older than me and all four of her children are grown and out of the house. She’s even a grandmother to one adorable grandson and one unknown-gender-grandchild on the way. I, obviously, am at quite a different stage of life with four still at home, although two in college this fall and another one fall of 2021. So much change coming, but not here yet.

My mother has asthma to the extent that she uses nebulizer-infused medication three to four times each day. She has not left their yard since mid-March. My father, while increasingly frail, has an independent streak a mile long, but is currently experiencing issues with his eyesight. Which necessitates my sister and me being more involved than we had been. And seeing more clearly what has changed.

As of now, I’m doing the grocery side of things–taking my dad out to their main store (he refuses to let me do it for him outright), and running to get things from other stores if they want. My sister is doing the medical stuff–taking Dad to his eye doctor appointments–even into Wills Eye in Philadelphia, which for Dad was a BIG DEAL.

A few things we’ve noticed: 1. Their world has shrunk. Philadelphia may have well been the moon for all he felt comfortable going there. Even before Corona, they mostly stay within their town and the route to and from church. That’s it. My sister lives literally SEVEN miles away (I’m six) and they feel like visiting her is kind of difficult. To get to my house from theirs they mostly stay on the same road, with just a couple of turns, so they are more willing to come my way.

2. Housekeeping is falling by the wayside. Like A LOT. They just don’t SEE the dirt (or smell it) anymore. We went over a couple of weeks ago and worked on a few main areas that they hang out in and will need to go back and help. We are working up to the idea of talking Dad into a weekly or bi-weekly cleaning service.

3. For a long time they’ve been fairly stable. They’ve had surgeries and issues over the years, but they were dips in the road. The road is starting to head downward now. They are forgetting things–mom will tell me the same story twice in one conversation. Dad will swear something happened or didn’t happen, but just not remember. A few months ago, when I went over to drive him to the store for the first time and noticed that he wasn’t just older, he was old. He looked frail. It was hard to see.

I finally called their pastor of more than 30 years. We spoke for a good bit, and he has been experiencing the same thing with his wife’s parents. He has been seeing the same things that we are seeing, although obviously not recently because of Corona. He encouraged me, which was needed, and I brought him into the loop of everything, which was also needed.

So I’m left with the question: How does one parent the parent when the parent doesn’t want or see the need for it?

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