Editor's Note: BubbleLife contributor Elizabeth Tamlyn writes "Ham and Cheese," an email newsletter offering encouragement, direction and advice regarding the care of an elderly parent. Look for her monthly column on BubbleLife.
My name is Elizabeth Tamlyn and I hope to bring you words of encouragement if you are in the phase of life where you are caring for a parent while simultaneously caring for your own family. My dad, Joe Butler, lived in a guest house behind ours for 13 years. He died in June 2007. I know the joys and burdens you feel.
The purpose of this column is to encourage you. I, too, have cared for an elderly parent in his last years. I had the joy of having him healthy for 40-something years of my life and the responsibility of serving him in his fragile health for several years. I know the many and varied emotions you have with serving a sick or weak parent. I know that sometimes you feel it is your greatest privilege and how sometimes you feel exhausted and weary and that you cannot go on. I know that when you are with that parent, sometimes you feel like you need to be somewhere else; and when are not with them you are thinking that you should be.
We are called the “Sandwich Generation” — living life between caring for our own families and caring for elderly parents, “sandwiched” between these two generations, hence the title of this newsletter, “Ham and Cheese Please.”
I hope to encourage you with stories to help you get perspective, which is what we all need sometimes to separate the urgent from the important. Just as the world tells a young mom she is wasting her time caring for preschoolers at home, so the world values jobs with important titles over caring for elderly parents. The title of "Director of something," anything really (work, ministry, doesn’t matter!), seems so much more glamorous than taking my dad to the doctor or bringing him a meal. But guess what? My season of caring for him is over and I wouldn’t trade one single doctor’s appointment or La Madeline quiche that I brought him. I miss him dearly and hope I can help you gain perspective, not creating guilt, but in helping you remember what is truly important and how, this too, will pass. I want to encourage you to FINISH WELL — don’t grow weary, don’t do it in your own strength and don’t give up the high calling of serving your parent.