Thursday, November 17, 2011

Huh? What?

Being in midlife and caring for aging parents can be a circus. Or maybe a merry-go-round that's not always merry?

Mom is 81, and Dad is 86. They live about 10 minutes away, in their own home. Steadfast Hubbie, my stalwart brother John, and I try to make life a little easier for them, but sometimes that works out better than others.

Mom does much of the caregiving for Dad, who's visually impaired and uses a walker. She chases him around to get him shampooed at the kitchen sink. She shaves him with an electric razor every couple of days, with him puffing and blowing like a steam engine.

Dad's visual problems lead to some interesting situations. He complained that he didn't like his rice the other night at a restaurant. The rest of us looked at each other. His “rice” was coleslaw, we told him. He's a good sport, and a generous man. He laughed along with us.

Currently we are wracking our brains to find something he'll like to eat. Yet we have to keep watch on him—he's been known to eat the scraps my mother saves for her cats.

“Mmm, that sausage was good,” he'll say.

But Charles,” Mom shrieks, “that was for the cats-- it was cooked two weeks ago!”

Both Mom and Dad are hearing impaired; Hubby is slightly deaf. Me too. When did everyone start mumbling and garbling? Trying to hear in a noisy room is getting difficult for all of us.

A conversation: “Well, it’s snowing in Boston,” I say.
“Oh, you’re reading Jane Austen?” Mom asks.
 “You’re throwing the moss? What moss?” Hubby inquires.
“You’re going for Frosties?” Dad wonders.

Oh, never mind.

I pray for patience, with menopausal wickedness making me feel like a certified witch on a broom. Outwardly, I do my best to smile. Mostly.

The “Sandwich Generation” term has already become cliché. We don't have the bottom piece of bread in our family sandwich, since Hubby and I don't have children. So I guess we're the peanut butter, stuck to the plate, topped by a piece of bread?

Hope it's not moldy. I'll have to put my glasses on to see.


  1. I've told my Hubbypants that he should count his lucky stars that I came into this relationship with less than a handful of family members to eventually care for. Which, was indeed lucky since BOTH of his parents have kept up hopping the past few years. His mom passed in Aug., so all that is left is his dad who is mostly cared for by my sister-in-law that lives with him. We help as much as we can and know all too well how challenging the role of caregiver can be.

  2. My mum is still quite young - she'll be turning 52 soon - but she's had the sort of life that makes a woman feel older than she is. She needs a lot of help, and a lot of strength. Sometimes I am so grateful that my baby sister is finally mature enough to help with this. And other times I feel simultaneously like the smear of peanut-free soy butter stuck to the plate with the mouldy bread on top, and the horrified mother watching her son scrape it up to take a bite.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Desi and A.B.! Soy butter indeed!