Monday, October 02, 2006

Welcome to the Sandwich Generation

The following was used last week and edited for publication on Monday, 10/2/06. A little bit of history might be helpful. Mom (currently almost 71) had back surgery to fuse L4 & L5 about 2-1/2 years ago. Over the past several months, her spinal deterioration had returned and was accelerating at an alarming pace. By sheer force of will and determination (with help from others) she was able to get into the boat while at the lake in July. By August, she was unable to walk any distance without using a walker. By the end of August, she could not cross a galley kitchen from the sink to the stove without using the walker. She was in significant, constant pain and was experiencing significant loss of nerve function.

She finally got an appointment with the neurosurgeon in Birmingham (who did her first back surgery ... one of the best neurosurgeons in the South) the Wednesday after Labor Day. He told her, "I can do the surgery tomorrow or October 25th)." The choice was obvious ... and the surgery was carried out. The fusion of L4-L5 was repaired, along with a fusion of L1-L4 as well: 5 levels fused. Nerve damage was quite apparent, especially at L3-L4 which was 40 degrees out of alignment.

Now to the post:

4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. … 8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:4, 8; NIV)

I’m grateful to people for covering for me while I’m gone to Dothan this week to look after Dad while Mom is still in rehab. I was able to get there in time to spend a few minutes with my designer sister before she had to go to the airport to fly back to NY. She had been with Mom for 2 weeks after doctor sister had to return to Connecticut to family and work responsibilities.

It’s evident that the need is great. I’m thankful that I was able to find a few days’ window in my schedule between one thing and another so that I can go down. My sister fell apart on me when I got here, but she needed to. It’s been a tough ride. The other sister will be coming this weekend to tag up with me. I will be back on Sunday. What the next few weeks will require of us is yet to be seen. When I think of all that I put them through over the years (you can probably imagine), I’m happy to do what I can. This current phase of life is taking my mind in some interesting directions, but no clear thoughts have emerged yet.

Several years ago … perhaps as long ago as a couple of decades … someone coined the phrase “the sandwich generation” to describe people who are still raising children and whose parents are requiring assistance as well. The lovely wife and I have come to realize that we are smack dab in the middle of the sandwich. I feel like corned beef. I appreciate your prayers for my safe travel.

That’s enough to think about for now.


PS - I'm still wrestling with the "provide for his own family" bit and working hard to discern what's needed and how best to do it. Mom is showing steady improvement, but nerves heal very slowly.


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