Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Sandwich Generation

Musings #55
June 13, 2004

The Sandwich Generation

The “New” Sandwich
“Middle age” is known as the “sandwich generation.” That’s because we’re pressed between our parents’ and our children’s (and grandchildren’s) needs. Some of my friends, blessed with living parents and lots of children and grandchildren have a full-time job, with lots of overtime, just helping everyone “a little.”

Recently a neighbor had to deal with a sandwich of a different flavor. He had to postpone his murdered son’s azkarah, memorial ceremony, until after he got up from shiva, the seven day morning period, for his mother.

The “Open” Sandwich
A few years ago, at a shiva for a child, the mother said that she was glad that her parents had already died. She would have no had been able to deal with their grief at the murder of her own child.

A More “Cheerful” Sandwich
Some sandwiches are more festive. Life here is more than terror and tragedy. Last week I experienced a “miracle” sandwich experience. On Wednesday I had to go to the airport to pick up my parents, visiting to celebrate their first great-grandchild’s (and my first grandchild’s) first birthday, and bring my son who was leaving for the states. Now miraculously, without their planning together, it ended up that my parents were due to land three hours before my son was to take off. The simplest part of the miracle was that I only needed one trip to the airport. The extraordinary part of the miracle was that they got to see each other for a few minutes.

Between Two Real Slices, or “The Glue”
My parents (may they live and be well) are both first generation born in America. Their parents, who immigrated to America in their teens and twenties, were proud that their children were “real Americans,” speaking unaccented English and able to effortlessly fit into American society. My father’s mother was the only grandparent I had most of my life and she lived long enough to see all but my youngest child. She was my role model of how an immigrant functions. Even though she spoke English with us and followed American politics on TV, she read the Yiddish papers. I considered that perfectly normal, and today, after over thirty years in Israel, though I can follow Hebrew lectures and can easily converse in heavily accented and strangely syntaxed Hebrew on any topic, I read the news in English. And my children are the real Israelis.

I’m an Israeli in the sense that we’re experiencing the “ingathering of the exiles,” and I am definitely part of it. But I’m one of the “odd colors,” not yet blended in. Honestly, I never quite fit in America either.

I’m the filling, or the glue, in that American-Israeli sandwich.

Batya Medad, Shiloh

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