This has been a week of real transitions for me. Almost simultaneously I have been rocketed into the world of the "sandwich generation." Several months ago, Liz, David and I planned a "college tour" in which three of us would set out for the great unknown (beyond 495 even!) and introduce the IBOM (as he is fondly called - International Boy of Mystery) to the next phase of his education. We were to see Vassar, Bard (Oy!), NYU, Union and Skidmore (which I still refer to as Swarthmore - but no matter).
And as if the circle rounded itself, my dad had a terrible fall that broke two vertebrae. In the end, we got off pretty easy. There was no paralysis and no damage to the spinal cord and brain. But my dad's dementia has really increased -- not unusual in these kinds of situations and hopefully somewhat reversible.
So, I am sandwiched. Strangely, I feel pretty good about it. Seeing David see a few schools (I bailed from the tour early to head to SoCal where my parents retired many years ago) was amazing. While I got into the game a bit late with the boy, I felt a strong sense of parenthood, pride and, dare I say it, accomplishment. While for a long time I have struggled with finding my place in his upbringing, things are getting clearer now. As the adult male figure who sees David the most - although these days he is pretty scarce with homework, friends and school sports taking much of his attention -- I have watched him grow into a mature young man with a strong sense of himself - even though he doesn't always know it. I see him hang onto his childhood, particularly in new situation, clinging to his mom (and me!) as we walk down the street on the way to schools, finding his way to a new place in the world. And yet, once in the environment, he asks excellent questions and forms opinions with the best of them.
Together with his dad John, I think I have done a pretty good of raising him to question, even though many of the questions make me uncomfortable. But that's all in the job description,
And so I head to California with some dread. Liz tells me that I have done a good job so far, managing the doctors, nurses, my mother and all of our expectations. I arrive in California in a new role. Still a son who loves his father, I now become a key factor in his physical and psychological wellbeing. Scary stuff. At least we now have the resources for me to fly out there, rent a car and make key purchases without a second thought about the financial implications. There was a long time when that would not have been the case and would have thrown me for quite a loop.
One of the most interesting things happening now is how my job is factoring in here. For decades my job was the most important thing to me. And we all saw where that got me -- for better or worse. Anyone reading this blog knows how passionate I can get about what I do professionally. But since Liz and I decided to create a life together - complete with "instant family" - things have shifted, and rightly so. And while I have had the luxury to separate myself from issues with parents and siblings for such a long time, I now face them with a whole different set of skills and expertise.
Wish me luck.