82 it was this year. The six-year-old had to help her blow out the candles. She ate four pieces of cake, only because each time I offered a new piece she had forgotten already about the previous piece and her stomach hadn’t yet caught up. S’pose that wasn’t nice of me. (It really wasn’t out of spite, she just awfully seemed to want more cake).
Sometimes I’m angry. Uncle Doug wrote her a letter which she received yesterday. It was a birthday card that he’d misaddressed so it came late. She was already confused about that when her eye fell upon the sticker. For his return address Uncle Doug used one of those free labels that Some Charity sent in hopes of procuring a donation. It had his legal first name Basil on the label because who knows from what list direct mail marketers got his name.
So my mom says, Oh, I see that Doug is now going by the name Basil. I wonder what he’d like me to call him. Jenny, should I start calling him Basil? No attention paid to his personal signature of Doug on the birthday card, or perchance to the fact that he has always and only in his whole 84 years gone by Doug or Douglas.
Despite numerous, dreadfully numerous, attempts to explain that Some Charity doesn’t really know Uncle Doug and he just uses the free address labels because he’s frugal and that obviously he would have let her know if he changed his name, my mom insisted that he must have, for there it was on the sticker. And *I* was the one who was crazy for not thinking so, too. Yes, I lowered myself in my frustration to saying, You Are Crazy to think that.
I maintain a multi-generational family and do struggle along with millions of other “sandwich generation” folks in the raising of my own young children while caring for an aging parent. I just read a statistic from Pew Research Center that 1 in every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is doing this. This is what happens when people live longer and start families later.
Sometimes I feel every warning sign they tell caregivers about: burnout, anxiety, anger, fatigue, depression. Sometimes I laugh and feel doubly blessed. It depends on the day. I thank God for my husband who has the most amazing sense of humor about it all, and willingly shares his castle.
Because my mom has lived with us since our oldest (11) was an infant, this lifestyle is all my children know. I’m glad for that. Nothing was disrupted in their life by suddenly having Grandma move in. It was always this way and this is just what you do. My kids had a conversation in the back seat of the car one day about who would take care of mom when she was old. I was so stinking proud of them for coming up with a plan for my old age that included each one of them hosting me in a rotating fashion. Of course we all know it will be JoJo who takes care of me. She decided that when she was six.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27 says this, and yes, I comfort in these words not because I feel so self-righteous, believe me, I don’t, but because I need to know that we care for those in need because we are commanded to do so, it’s biblical. On hard days, it really helps to have that to lean into, lest I be tempted to fold. Speaking of fold, my mom is really good at folding laundry. Of course there is absolutely no guarantee about in which drawer clothing will end up, and I just realized that explains my son wearing my husband’s running underwear as shorts. It’s all part of the sandwich and sometimes the lettuce is wilted but you eat it anyway and it still nourishes you.
She Speaks Conference, July 22-24: women connecting the hearts of women to our Father. If, like me, you feel called to serve the Lord through ministry to other women, whether it’s speaking, writing, or mentoring, please check out this.
A Holy Experience is offering a scholarship to the She Speaks conference, a Proverbs 31 Ministries event, held in Concord, North Carolina on July 22-24, 2011. Click here for instructions on how to apply.