I’m right in the middle of that generation we call “the sandwich generation”. We really should call my crew the “sandwichED ” generation because we are surely just the part of the sandwich that is squished between the bread. My bread this week was a seven month old and his wonderful parents on one side, and my 92-year-old father on the other. Lately, I’ve been feeling like someone obese has been sitting on my “sandwich”.
Last weekend, my father wanted to travel throughout the weekend to attend two of his sweet grand-daughters’ graduation ceremonies. I love that he still wants to do this family stuff. So I had the privilege of keeping him at my house throughout the weekend and making the “graduation tour” with him. My son-in-law, Ben, was speaking at one of these ceremonies, thus I had the extra privilege of having The EZRA household visiting, too. Four generations in my house last weekend made my sandwiched self pretty happy. But traveling to two graduations and attending two after-parties (one of my dad’s favorite parts of graduation) and getting home at about 11 o’clock pm the first night and about 1 am the second night? What were we thinking?! I just prayed that my dad would be okay and carefully dropped him off at doors and made sure the seating was in close range of our stops and I had lots of help from my daughter and all of my father’s kids and grandkids. I knew there are always some risks of traveling with a nonagenarian, but I had to believe the joy it was bringing him was worth the risk. Ezra entertained everyone and my dad loved getting to be in the car with him.
It was truly hard to believe on Sunday afternoon when the diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia was given after the ambulance transported him from the doctor’s office to the hospital….Oh, it wasn’t Dad who was sick. Dad was at worship that morning and that evening. It was baby Ezra. He had RSV to go along with the pneumonia as well as an ear infection and lots of upper respiratory symptoms that come with RSV. That little boy went from entertainer to fighting for breath pretty quickly.
And so continued the cast collision, I cancelled my scheduled root canal for Monday and entered a sleep deprived vortex, along with Ezra’s parents. My days this week were mostly spent on Four Mile Road with my father. My nights were mostly at the hospital with Ezra, while the parents came home for a nap. And there was nothing boring about the collision. Here are some highlights:
- We “nebulized” at both places. At the hospital, I wrestled a flailing baby trying to keep that smoking wand of albuterol in his face. At home I instructed my father, “please don’t eat jelly beans while you do that breathing treatment.”
- We pumped at both. At the hospital I witnessed an amazing and rhythmical breast pump. (They’ve come a long way since 1987.) At home, it was the wasp-covered pool pump. (Probably the same one as in 1987.)
- We charted at both. At the hospital there was a chart I had to remember to mark for every feeding and every diaper change. (And when you are changing diapers that are antibiotic affected, the last thing you are thinking about is marking a chart.) It made me compassionate at home when my dad forgot to mark his medicine chart.
- We rejected meds at both. Ezra was obviously and verbally disgusted with the “not-so-grape-and-pretty penicillin-y” taste of that antibiotic. Dad was obviously and verbally disgusted with a couple of his meds, too. “The reason I am not taking that kind anymore is that I ran out of it and I do not like it, so I was hoping we could just…run out of it and be done with it.”
- We treated algae at both. Well actually, at the hospital, Ezra and I watched a long 4 am episode of something that was a premiere to this grandmother. (Love to be up at 4 am finding new cartoons!) It was “The Octonauts” on the Disney channel and they were these cute little octopi who found out how to clean up the whole ocean from harmful algae. It was very environmentally and politically correct. But where were they when I was sweeping and treating that pool out at Four Mile? That bottle of algae-treat that I bought at the pool store was so expensive that I half-way expected them to pop out when I opened it.
- We ran meals-on-wheels at both. Sometimes I got so sleepy that I would almost forget which direction I was going with this coffee or this filet-of -fish sandwich, this bunch of half-price Cinco-de-Mayo Sonic slushes or these tacos. (Well, you do know you are not going to Four Mile with tacos, for sure.) And parking was at a premium at times at both places.
- We answered lots of questions at both. PieDaddy wanted to know every detail about Ezra. “Is he getting a little bit back to normal?”… “Is my boy eating yet?”…”Is little boy smiling sometimes?” And at the hospital… “Is PieDaddy okay?” …”Where is PieDaddy’s Lysol, so I can spray every thing while I am there?” “Will you get PieDaddy to leave the light on and the door unlocked, so we can get in there and sleep a while?”
- We figured out transportation. At the hospital, it was a bit challenging to figure out how you navigate a little red wagon up and down the hallways without unhooking it from the IV dispenser. But it was worth figuring out. At home, exactly how do you figure out driving issues for a 92-year- old who has his mind set on a new pick-up truck?
- We read books; the Bible and a book about pigs going on a cruise at the hospital…the Bible and a book about the Crimson Tide at home.
- We adjusted thermostats. At the hospital, we tried to make it a little cooler. At home, we did, too. (But at home, whenever we got the temperature below 78, we found PieDaddy in his chair under a blanket.)…and back up it went.
- We bargained. At the hospital to the nurse: “ I’ll give you five dollars if you will NOT wake that baby up this time.” At home to dad: “ Tell you what. You eat this biscuit I brought you now and then after we take a nap, we will go to Betty’s for a barbecue potato.”
- We sanitized. Gloves are at the hospital for holding the baby. Gloves are at home for doctoring the sore toe. (Sanitized may be a bit too strong a term for what we did at PieDaddy’s. I guess scraping up squished jelly beans off the kitchen floor before giving it a “lick and a promise” with the mop may not qualify. But toilets did get cleaned at both.
- We prayed. At the hospital, I would drift off for a few minutes on that little couch while asking God to watch over and bless that little boy in the bed beside me. At home, I heard PieDaddy pray for our baby…”that they will be able to help him get better.”
- We’re all thankful for medical technology. Is it any wonder that I ended up in my own doctor’s office yesterday afternoon and got my own needle sticks and prescriptions, and that, while I was waiting in line for the meds, I talked to Hannah, who would have already called in sick on any other job but the Mom job. We’re all just praying that Dad steers clear since we did steer him clear of the hospital and we did spray Lysol all around Four Mile.
The sandwich generation is not so bad, really. In fact, it’s the best. There are blessings that those who never have the “bread” on both sides cannot know. There’s variety like you would not believe. But there’s also a “sameness” that will take your breath away when the generations roll on in the Lord. The 92 year-old is just a speeding arrow on the same course as the 7 month-old that’s just leaving the bow (Psalm 127). And one day, when we’ve been there ten thousand years, where we do not need hospitals or fast food or sanitizing agents or thermostats, the generational differences between the baby born in 1922 and the one born in 2014 will be unimportant; maybe even nonexistent. I pray that there will be a great cast collision there. I pray I’ll be sandwiched between both casts around that throne.