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Open-Faced Sandwich

By Janie Rosman

(Page 1 of 3)

Dad calls my name from three rooms away; to me, it sounds like a bellow. The dear man is hard of hearing—none of his three hearing aids work, he says—and he doesn’t know the volume of his own voice.

It’s a wonderful voice—one that soothed me, comforted me, reprimanded me, advised me, and now asks me for help.

At 89, he can’t hear his own voice; my ears hear a pin dropped into feathers.

I walk into the kitchen and see him struggling with the can opener, frustrated. He looks up at me helplessly as I gently remove it from his hands and open the tuna fish.

I leave as he says, “Thank you,” allowing him his dignity.

Incidents like these—a lid closed too tightly, an item on a shelf that’s out of reach except by stepstool, bags too heavy to carry—happen often to my octogenarian parents. Now in their beyond-golden years, they’re blessed to have each other.

What to do? Become a filling in the sandwich generation.

Merriam-Webster describes the sandwich generation as “a generation of people who are caring for their aging parents while supporting their own children.”

The Web calls this group of baby boomers “those who care not only for their own children, but also act in a caregiver role for their own parent(s).”

Truth be told, I’m not exactly a filling because being “sandwiched” means being in the middle of whatever. The term “sandwich generation” refers to someone caring for both their parents and their children.

There had to be a logical explanation. Google to the rescue!

Link upon link appeared.  After much investigation, I learned I’m an open-faced sandwich. And by this time, I’m really curious because anything related to food peaks my interest.

Syndicated columnist Carol Abaya, M.A., says people fall into one of three categories. Traditional sandwiches describe those who raise their own families and also care for their parents.  Club sandwiches are people in their 50s and 60s with aging parents, adult children and grandchildren or folks in their 30s and 40s with kids, aging parents and grandparents. Abaya calls us open-faced sandwich folks “anyone else involved in elder care.”


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