Open-Faced Sandwich Generation   Leave a comment

Until 2006, I was on the daughter track, minus the time-off to take care of my parents.  I had a solid career and a wonderful husband, but no kids.  I spoke to my parents frequently and saw them regularly as we lived in New York City and they were close by in New Jersey.  As they got older, I became more involved with their health issues and general affairs.

In December of 2000, my husband and I moved to a beautiful home in Virginia.  Just two months later in February, my father had a massive stroke.  He lived for 3 more years with round-the-clock help in their home, but was physically incapacitated and had severe expressive aphasia.  My mother was amazing through it all; cooking 3 meals a day for my father and his care-givers, keeping track of all the household finances and making sure that my father’s health issues were addressed with both private sector doctor’s and the Veteran’s Administration.

When my father died, she moved into a two bedroom apartment in a very lovely independent living facility.  She was mentally sharp, playing bridge 3 times a week, keeping track of and paying all her own bills and completing The New York Times crossword puzzle every day ~ in ink no less.  She still drove her car to her hair dresser, the grocery store and of course, to her own doctor’s appointments.

When I became pregnant, at 45 years old, I told my mother on the day I found out.  She was thrilled to become a grandmother for the first time and I was thrilled to become a mother and relished the role of a full-fledged member of the Sandwich Generation.

My mother had been complaining of periods of exhaustion. She was poked and prodded by numerous doctors, but there was no diagnosis and apparently no cure.  I spoke with her primary care physician in March of 2006 and told him that he had to keep her alive until July as I was expecting her first grandchild.  He told me that she had already told him the exact same thing.

Proud Grandma

Despite her bouts with exhaustion, she was able to come down to Virginia when our daughter was born.  She had arranged for a driver and was the first visitor in the hospital. She stayed with us for 2 weeks.  When she returned to New Jersey, we visited her several times during the summer. Each time, my mother hosted a party so that more friends and family could see our baby.

We were expecting my mother for another extended stay in Virginia in early October.  Unfortunately, she never made it down.

She called to say that a bone marrow scan had finally produced a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  It was a devastating diagnosis. My mother was accepted into an experimental program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Her doctors were warm and compassionate, but there was never much hope.  She died on November 4, 2006.  Our daughter was 19 weeks old.

Suddenly, I was no longer in the Sandwich Generation, I was in the Open-Faced Sandwich Generation. I was missing a critical piece of my sandwich.

Tip: See if your company has an eternity leave policy so that you can focus on your responsibilities as executor.

Information found on this web site is for general informational purposes only based on personal experience and should not be construed as legal, tax or other professional advice. You should consult an experienced attorney, tax professional or financial advisor concerning your particular factual situation and any specific questions you may have.

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