If you’re over 50, I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “The Sandwich Generation.” The term, TSG, refers to a generation that is simultaneously caring for parents and children.
And what about the “Club Sandwich Generation?” Carol Abaya, who writes and lectures on the subject of the sandwich generation refers to people, usually in their 50s or 60s, who assist in the care of aging parents, adult children and grandchildren. I’ll pass on the Club Sandwich, thank you.
There is an estimated 8 million Latino baby boomers taking care of both elderly parents and children. Switching between two cultures and two sets of expectations is why I call TSG the quesadilla generation. Like melted cheese, one feels stretched and stuck to both sides of the tortilla.
But recently I almost burned the quesadilla. I wasn’t watching the comal close enough.
My focus was on my upcoming month long trip. Among the important issues like passport, tickets, transportation, and lodging, I also had to arrange for my live in kids to take care of the house while I’m gone.
Three young adults, ages19-26, (hey, no judgement-bad economy and all that) have to remember to buy groceries, feed three pets, clean up after them and themselves, water the lawn/ plants, go the mailbox, keep the house standing, not maim each other, and get to work and school without any reminders from me. They do know how to cook and do their laundry though.
Back to the quesadilla analogy: I forgot about preparing for my mother’s needs while I’m gone. There, I confessed it. How did I not remember to prepare her for my departure? Maybe because she used to be so independent, buen chingona mi madre, or because I have never left her for a month.
Mom’s diabetes has taken its toll these last five years. She is legally blind and hard of hearing-good reasons for her not to drive anymore. Mom hates not being able to drive. “Getting old is a bitch,” she says. (Yes, she really used that word). “Losing my independence has been the worst thing.”
|vintage postcard of Bette Davis
Yes, getting older is no place for wimps.
I usually fill her pillboxes with over 10 daily medications, take her to the doctor’s, groceries, pay her bills online, and make several telephone calls for her because the telephone voice robot can’t understand her, she can’t hear it or she can’t punch the large keypad on the phone menu fast enough.
The upside is that after 5 p.m., she’s pretty well taken care of since everyone is out of work or school by then, but prior to that time, it’s a challenge. Mom refuses to have “…some stranger come into my house to take care of me, what if they steal from me. Did I tell you about…”
Although my sister helps with transportation quite a bit, she lives in another city and isn’t always available for my mom’s numerous appointments. With my departure, and school beginning, there will not be anyone to get her to where she needs and wants to go. Staying home for 4 days in a row is 2 days too much for Mom. She’s a pretty lively woman who likes to visit, shop, see movies, and dine out. She asked me to send her postcards, because “…you guys take thousands of pictures and then put them on that thing (digital frame) and I never see them good.”
Mom’s also pretty smart. Yesterday she called me, “I need to prepare for when you leave. Call that you know, that senior place where senior people, who need rides to wherever in those little buses, come pick up seniors.” I ‘googled’ that phrase, lol, no I did not, but I did find such an agency in my county.
After downloading a 4 page application, I filled it out for her, forged her name (she told me too) and mailed it in. In 2 weeks a person from the Council of Aging will come and interview her, give her a photo ID and get her set up with a bus card that provides door to door service. She wonders if it’ll take her to the casino.
My niece, the Pharm Tech who just graduated, will fill her pill boxes. My sister will take her places when she can. My kids will visit her on their days off and call in between those times. I’m making calls to my cousins to ask them to drop by. With everyone’s help I’m sure Mom won’t miss my assistance, but I know I’ll sure miss her a lot.