The Sandwich Generation


Many of my friends and I are at the age where we are experiencing the death of our parents. Obviously, some people have dealt with this life changing event earlier in their lives and although we all deal with loss differently, the age we are at the time of the loss is an important factor. Life looks different at different ages and that holds true for how we view this loss. I also have friends dealing with sick and aging parents. That adds a whole other layer of feelings. The amount of distance we are away from the parent, time of life, other commitments, prior relationships and many other things affect how we feel. There might be situations where one is closer geographically or emotionally. There may be other persons who stand between an adult child and a parent. The factor list is endless; relationships, interactions with caretakers, finances, contact (or not,) distance both physically and more. Dear ones are providing hands on care. Some look on from afar, fearful of every phone call. Some are right there, dealing with the issues on a minute by minute basis. Some are feeling guilty for not being there enough or feeling guilty for not having enough patience, time, effort. Regardless of the degree of contact, there are emotions to be dealt with.
My Mom was born in 1924. I learned a lot about her life over the years but there are still things I wish I had asked her and told her. I lost my Mom in 2004 and now my Dad is very disabled physically. His memory is not what it once was. So much for asking about past history. In a way, I was lucky. I had the time, opportunity and presence of mind to say some what I wanted to say and hear what I wanted to hear from each one of them. Even so, it was and still is a trying time. I really thought that once I had been through it, I would know just what to say to those who are now going through it. In fact, when my mother died, if someone would share with me how their loss of a parent affected them, it did seem to help me. But I am not so sure anymore. No words can express and no amount of sympathy can take away the particular pain that is involved. I believe that it is a very personal loss that is different for everyone. How can I profess to tell any one person that I know how they feel? In all honesty, I cannot. I can only say, that I have been though something similar and that I know that at some level it hurts, even if you think it won’t.
There are times when you cannot be thinking about that hurt as life for the living does get in the way. (Maybe thankfully.) Except out of the blue, something seemingly odd will trigger a thought that is so potent; you hardly know how to respond. Sometimes there may be tears, even laughter or simply ….nostalgia. I think often about my parents’ younger years. I mean the years when they were raising my sister and me. Mom and Dad were busy, enjoying their lives and I imagine they were just like me when I was at that stage in my life, living and not thinking about living. That is the time I like to reminisce and remember them. Years spent in sunny Florida, picnicking, boating, visiting relatives, working, cooking, home repairing and most of all, raising us.
Raising us was a lot bigger job than I realized at the time. Perhaps what I want to say to them most of all is that now I know how hard it must have been. Maybe the fear comes partly from not saying that enough. You know, giving them enough credit. After all, did we come with directions? They did the best they could with what they had to work with and knew to do. So, I will say it again, “Thanks Mom and Dad for all you did for us!!” When my mother lay dying, I worried about things I needed to say to her. I thanked her for being a great parent. Maybe I did not have to worry about saying it because what she said back was, “it was my pleasure.”

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11 Responses to The Sandwich Generation

  1. Cindy Walsh says:

    Love this Karen. You are so right. I have wonderful memories of spending time with you and Robin when you were visiting NC. I loved your Mom and miss her and also miss my Dad so much.

  2. Sheial McNaughton says:

    I lost my Mom in Jan of this year after a long struggle with Alzehimers. I miss her, not the woman of the last few years but the Mom I knew and loved from before, the Mom who raised me. My Dad died in 1975. As you stated Karen, our folks did the very best they could with what they had and knew. I too wish I could go back and ask questions to know more about them and their lifie but that opportunity is lost. I am hoping I pass on info to my kids but not sure if they are interested.

  3. diannegray says:

    My dad died several years ago (he was born in 1928) and it was very traumatic for the entire family. I was there when my dad passed but one of my brothers (who refused to believe anything was wrong) was not there. I think this has had a devastating effect on him because he never had the opportunity to say goodbye. My mother (born 1930) is still going and is as fit and strong as ever. When I was young I used to fish with my dad off the beach and now if I’m feeling stressed or upset about anything I go to the beach and stand there and fish all day. It makes me feel like I’m close to him. I’m hoping my children have a ‘place’ that they can go when I’m gone so they can feel like they’re close to me.

    Your mother must have been an amazing woman and I love the words she said in your closing line. It made me very misty indeed…

    • karenblopez says:

      Thank you, Dianne. What a great idea, that is, to give our children a special place to come to that reminds them of us. I wonder if we can do that mindfully?

  4. Karen, so very eloquent. Each phrase painted and image for me. An image of simpler times. An image of a time that is easy to forget – our parents at our own age.
    In hindsight there was so many things I wish I’d said to my parents and didn’t. I thin there will always be things we’d wished we could have emphasized more or better. We have to realize that, just like them, we’ve done our best. Hugs my sweet friend.

  5. Paul D. Hollifield Sr says:

    Is Couzit, Man I did spell it wrong didn’t I.

  6. Paul D. Hollifield Sr says:

    and for those of you who see the word Couszit, its not missed spell, When Karen ,I and Her Sister Robin were Teenagers, we were trying to teach our little baby cousin Susan ,how to say Cousin, and It came out Couszit, and It stuck,

  7. Paul D. Hollifield Sr says:

    I was once told when my dad died that once you get past all of the first’s, it will get better, maybe somethings did not sure, I do know that I love and miss him each day, as I’m sure you do your Mom. love you Couzit

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