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Tales from the Sandwich Generation

On the morning of our May 3 GaGa Sisterhood meeting, I received several “regrets” calls from members who would not be able to attend. Two calls struck me as noteworthy because they represent a common predicament: we grandmas in the Sandwich Generation face joys and challenges at opposite ends of the life cycle spectrum.

Coincidentally, both calls were from GaGas named Marilyn.

Marilyn A. joined our group before she even knew she’d be a grandma. Her son and daughter-in-law were both busy professionals and parenthood was not in their immediate plans. Marilyn and I met at eWomen Network in San Jose, CA. When I told her about the GaGa Sisterhood, she was immediately interested. She came to a meeting and joined. Six months after she joined, she announced at one of our meetings that she was, indeed, going to be a grandma. Her son and daughter-in-law were expecting their first child in the middle of May. We were all thrilled for her and joked—see, just being around other grandmas will turn you into one!

Marilyn called Sunday to tell me she’d become a grandma. Her grandson, Asa Zion, was born at 12:44 am on May 3. He weighed 7lb 7oz, is 21 inches long and according to her, the paternal grandmother, “looks exactly like his dad!”

I announced Marilyn’s wonderful news at our meeting and everyone cheered.

Marilyn B. is an only child and has sole responsibility for her 88 year-old mother, Mary Alice. I know her mom well because she was our Brownie and Girl Scout leader many decades ago. She even came to one of our GaGa Sisterhood meetings last year. Mary Alice has been in and out of the hospital since her husband died almost three years ago. When she’s healthy, she lives in assisted living just a few miles away from Marilyn. But when she’s not, she moves in with Marilyn.

On the day of our meeting Marilyn and her mother had just returned from yet another trip to the ER and Mary Alice was too weak to stay by herself. So Marilyn called to say, with deep regret, that she would have to miss our Conversation with Adair Lara, which she had been looking forward to for months. Marilyn has two young grandchildren who also live close by and she is often on call to help out her daughter.

These stories truly represent our role as the Sandwich Generation and the choices we face as grandmothers with aging parents.

1 thought on “Tales from the Sandwich Generation”

  1. I’m a member of the Sandwich Generation, spending from 50 to 100 hours a week with my dad at his home. He’s 93, and we’re attempting to let him “age in place.” This has been going on for a year, and it hasn’t been too difficult, but now summer is coming on, and I want to be able to travel with my grandchildren while they are out of school. It’s tough, having to choose between one’s parent and one’s grandchildren!

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