Why is it that important life events always seem to happen at once? It just seems to be the inevitable reality of the Sandwich Generation. Last time I wrote, there was a Drumline finals competition, a hospitalization and the need to find someone to stay with my mom. With family and a good support system, it happened.
A couple of months down the line, there has been another hospitalization for dad, that happened at the same time as events for my son again. He was a speaker for the Youth Sunday at Church, and graduated from High School three days after that. So, one of the things that has to happen as a Sandwich generation is thinking creatively. Dad was unable to make it to the church service, so we took it to him. Thank you, God, for technology! Skype is wonderful. So are great friends to help with the navigation. A friend took her laptop to the hospital and got it set up. I took my laptop to the church service, sitting in the front row. Upon learning that the sound wasn't good enough to hear, this same friend came back to the church, took my laptop into the sound booth and hooked it into the soundsystem. She then drove back to the hospital and made sure that Dad could hear it. She also was so thoughtful to video tape dad's responses to hearing his grandson state, "My future plan is to become one of those Cool Band Directors like my grandpa!" Priceless!!
Three days after this, was the graduation. Dad made it home the day before. We also learned that my mother in law had trouble with her knees on the plane. Creative thinking step 2. The reality of the grandparents being able to walk the 2 blocks to the ceremony, and navigating the steps at the bleachers, was not going to happen!! Thus wheelchairs! We would need two more. I called Convalescent Aid Society, and reserved two more. So, while we looked like the wheelchair brigade, all were present to share in this special day for my son, and he was all smiles.
Since then, dad is stronger, we have had to put our dog of 12 years down, and now mom has had an upper respitory infection, additional weakness and hallucinations caused by one of her new medications.
In a discussion with my son a few nights ago, he said, " I don't mean to sound horrible, but it is so hard watching grandma wither away a little at a time. I almost wish she would just go." It isn't a matter of wanting her to die, as much as a realization that she has no quality of life. I am right there with my son. It is a difficult time, and there does come a time when quality of life is more important than quantity. It has been 8 years of her declining with her dementia. It is difficult for my dad to care for her, and deal with his own health issues. We are fast approaching a time when a decision will have to be made re: her care, either hiring someone to care for her at home or placing her, something we don't want to do.
But life in the Sandwich Generation is chock full of the need to think creatively, to use resources available to you through family, friends and the numerous resources in the local community. It is so important to do this, for the best care for the loved ones, but also your own self preservation. The other thing that is just part of the process is to refine the values of your life. Somehow as we deal with the different challenges that are inevitable, it has a way of forcing us to dig deep to ask those questions of what is truly the most important, and to have those conversations with our loved ones.
I am grateful that I have been here to care for my parents. And although I know it has been difficult for my son at times, I am also grateful that he has had some very important life lessons. He has been wonderful in his willingness to step in and help. He has a depth of character, a compassion and a wisdom about life that I believe are a direct result of his experience living with his grandparents. He is a better person for it. He has a bond with his grandfather especially, that will carry him for a lifetime. In the midst of some of the challenges, there have been more precious moments and memories that have come forth, that I will always be grateful for.