Raising Our Parents
I didn’t see my parents this week. I have a sinus infection, and I had no energy to travel two hours each way to see them. So, I stayed home and rested.
I missed being with them. Seeing Mom has become the focal point in my week. It pretty much defines my life right now, though there are of course many other things going on. I know they love to see me, too, but given the fact that Mom can’t remember that I’ve even visited, I think the visits are more important for me than they are for her.
So, instead, I spoke to Mom three times today. The first time, she called me on her own. I was excited to see that she still had the skills to use the phone and could find my number. We chatted amiably. She told me she’d been out to coffee with a friend, that it was hot out, and they’d turned the air conditioning on when they got home. Daddy was still out, and she asked me where he was. I knew he was in his art studio, so I could calm her anxiety over missing him.
The second time, Daddy called, and they both spoke to me. There was something wrong with the phone call, though. Their voices were choppy and indistinct. I gathered that they had had an ok afternoon, they’d received the shopping that was home delivered, and they were going to take a nap. I said I was going to take one, too.
Hours later, Daddy called to ask me to speak to Mom. She had tried to call my grandmother, but whoever answered the phone had hung up. The line was still choppy so I recommended they call me back on a different phone. This time they came through loud and clear.
When I spoke to Mom, I suggested that my grandmother’s care taker had probably heard her garbled voice from the non-working phone and had just hung up. I was sitting in the living room, and my youngest was listening in as I tried to explain the idea that two different phones might work differently, and that I could not put a call through to my grandmother while Mom and I were still talking. Everything confused Mom, not least the idea that her mother can’t talk on the phone anymore. At 98, my grandmother is hard of hearing and cannot hold the phone by herself. Despite Daddy’s insistence that it wasn’t worth it, Mom was stuck on the idea of calling her mother.
The tone of the conversation was escalating as Daddy tried to convince Mom not to make another phone call, while Mom was asserting she could do what she liked. I tried, in my most calm voice, to suggest that it hurt no one to assist Mom with a call to her mother. Daddy acquiesced and I told Mom that as soon as we hung up, Daddy would help her make the call.
We said goodbye, and I hung up the phone. That’s when my 15-year old piped up. “It’s funny how parents raise you and then you raise them,” he said. Well, didn’t that just take the cake. Such wise words for one so young.
That’s what it means to be the sandwich generation, stuck between our children and our parents, both of whom need us. I sat back, perplexed and overwhelmed by what had just transpired.
Being sick for two days means the chores have piled up. I did manage to make dinner for everyone, though. When my daughter asked me to make her favorite green beans, I happily complied.
Sesame Green Beans
This has become one of our all-time favorite ways to eat green beans. It is simple to prepare and can be eaten hot or cold. To toast sesame seeds, pour your seeds into a frying pan over a high flame and using the handle of the pan, gently swish the seeds around as they brown. You’ll end up with multi-hued seeds ranging from really brown to light brown. This takes about 10 minutes.
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 to 5 garlic cloves crushed
1 lb frozen green beans uncut
¼ cup soy sauce
1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds
In a large sauce pan, sauté garlic in oil. Add frozen green beans and cook until defrosted, stirring occasionally. Add soy sauce and sesame seeds. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.