I’m back at the same hospital where my Dad had his surgery. Except this time, it’s to take my Mom to her previously scheduled routine outpatient procedure. As my Dad still cannot drive and my Mom’s procedure requires that she has a companion to take her to and from her appointment, I volunteered to take her.
And as I’m sitting in the waiting room (just picture my hair in piggy-tails, by the way … hah!), I’m looking around to see other folk waiting for their loved ones to come out. Most of those are men and women who look like they’re in their late-40’s or early 50’s, and I was expecting that they would be waiting for their spouses. So imagine my surprise when I’m seeing most of the patients being discharged are older … and most likely my fellow waiting room companions’ parents.
And then I realized … that with this appointment, I’ve been officially “inducted” into the sandwich generation.
Except my parents aren’t, what I consider, “elderly.” (Hey, other than my Dad’s lengthy hospitalization and now subsequent follow-up appointments, both of my parents are otherwise pretty active.) Plus, I’m not exactly in my late 40’s or even my early 50’s.
And I’m not exactly “sandwiched” either. Because technically, being “sandwiched” means being placed in the middle of something. And the term “Sandwich Generation” implies that a person who fits this category is caring for both their parents AND their children.
As I am currently childless, I guess this really means I’m part of the “Open-Faced Sandwich Generation.” And to be completely honest … being childless and growing old has always been a concern for me.
Hubby & I have this longstanding joke about Senior Apartments or Assisted Livings that started when I first graduated from college and was looking at moving out of my parents’ house. (I must add that we were just newly engaged at that time.) He pointed to this one set of apartments and suggested that we check them out … not knowing that they were actually Senior Apartments.
From then, any senior apartment and assisted living we’d drive by we would always say, “What about those ones?” And the response would always be, “Nah, it’s not close enough to a movie theater or a library.” That’s because we always say that when we retire, all we want to do is watch movies and read. But the truth is, moving into those type of places could certainly be in our future.
Not that I expect to remain childless (I will adopt, damnit!), but if Hubby & I chose to remain childless … who would be that person to take care of us if we were too frail to take care of one another? Who would drive us to our appointments if we weren’t able to do it ourselves? Who would be No. 1 on our speed dial? Who would be that “Emergency Contact” person on our medical records? I couldn’t very well expect our nephew (or any of our future nieces and nephews) to do that … they’d have their own set of parents to worry about.
I must add here that even if … or rather when … we have children, I would never expect them to take complete care and responsibility of us. We’re waaay too much of an independent-minded and problem-solving couple by nature. And hell … as a Nurse Case Manager, these are the things I’m trained and certified to help problem-solve with the population I serve.
Regardless, this is a concern. And a valid one at that. And it’s yet another thing (along with possibly not ever being a “Mother of the Bride/Groom“) that the other 80% of women not experiencing infertility wouldn’t necessarily have to think about. At least not yet.