One of my over-fifty friends who is not in the book is part of the sandwich generation – and hers is, unfortunately a club sandwich. I watch and marvel the incredible juggling act that is her life.
This isn’t what she planned. Her retirement was going to be full of relaxation, travel, and a little golf. Except that her husband’s back pain precludes as much travel as they’d like. Except that her older daughter was diagnosed with Asberger’s syndrome and gave birth to a full-blown autistic daughter who has self-injurious behavior. Except that the same daughter is now in a nursing home in a persistive vegetative state. Except that my friend’s mother’s cancer came back and she is no longer able to live on her own. And her geriatric dog tends towards incontinence.
Oh, yes, except for these few little things, my friend has a perfect retirement. And yet, most of the time she makes it work, juggling everyone’s medical appointments, adopting her granddaughter so that she can best manage her care. She researches new developments in autism care. She finds quality caregivers. She manages the finances. She monitors everyone’s medical progress.
It’s a challenge, but she manages to squeeze out a bit of time for herself. She plays cards with friends two evenings a week and does water aerobics at the pool in her complex. Every so often, she just plain runs away from home. We’re taking a day for shopping and maybe a spa visit and a girl’s lunch out while I’m visiting her. Recently, when she visited me, we managed two street fairs, two museums and lunch with friends.
Many over-fifties are sandwiched. Some sink, others swim. My friend is, finally, learning to float.