It took only six words to propel me firmly into The Sandwich Generation. Notably, those words were not “I’d like fries with that, please.”
When my mother brought out the shiny brochures from the assisted living facility near their home, my husband looked at the pictures of gleaming accommodations and blurted out: “You should move in with us!”
I fully endorsed this sentiment, of course. Dad, Interrupted and I had covered this topic before and we were in full agreement that it would be wonderful for everyone if my parents could live with us. We were thrilled when Mom and Dad agreed.
And so began a nine-month adventure, Biblical in proportion and epic in scope as we debated about blueprints and ripped off the back end off of our house and moved almost everything we owned into the garage to make a comfortable downstairs suite for my octogenarian parents. We were swathed in plastic sheeting and staring at temporary plywood walls for what seemed like an eternity but was really just a third of one. The dumpster was almost longer than our lot and I’m sure the curses passersby aimed at us for pinching traffic came to fruition when a J-John was firmly ensconced in my driveway for three months.
It’s fitting, because the whole venture came to resemble a Cecil B. DeMille Bible extravaganza, complete with flood (I told you there were too many people using that bathroom!), food raining down on us (for the love of Pete, you kids have to quit eating in your bedrooms!) and downtrodden workers laboring to complete the Herculean task. The identities of those downtrodden workers are in our story depends on whom you ask; I think by the end everyone involved wound up feeling a little like they’d pulled an 85-ton limestone block up the street.
Life with Mom and Dad? It’s not been without its bumps. At one point I was taken to task with a lecture from Mom about “treating us like guests” as I bolted from room to room unpacking boxes and pouring milk and arranging meals.
So let me get this straight: for the first 18 years of my life, I couldn’t do anything fast enough for you people. Now that I’m a responsive, cooperative adult, I’m sensitive to the needs of my aging parents and actually doing what you need me to do when you need it done and that’s a problem now.
You’re going to have to make up your minds.
But everything I envisioned when Dad, Interrupted jumped in and uttered those six fateful words have come true: we eat dinner together every night like a family. I get to help Mom run her errands. Our sons who still live at home are getting to know their grandparents even better and stepping up the plate to hang pictures and move boxes and help their family adjust.
Best of all, every night my mom kisses me goodnight. Of course, she does this after she smooths my bangs away from my forehead and murmurs, “You should cut your hair like you wore it when you were 4.”
Well, it’s time to stop. I’m making lunch for Mom and Dad.
Six more words: I think we’ll have a sandwich.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.