“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.”
I’m a member of “the Sandwich Generation,” people who are coping with aging parents while supporting their own children. I just discovered that I’m a “Traditional Sandwich,” but according to elder expert, Carol Abaya, there are others who are “Club Sandwiches”—people dealing with aging parents, adult children, and grandchildren, OR with aging parents, grandparents, and young children. There are also “Open Faced Sandwiches,” which includes any people who are involved in elder care. (What did we do before Google?)
I’m fortunate in that I have siblings who help with the care of my 90-year-old mom. It’s not that she needs daily care, but there are things she can’t do by herself. Right now, we are assisting her with her move to a new apartment. By assisting, I mean we are doing all of the packing while she sits in a chair and tells us how to do it correctly. My siblings and I are stressed and eager for this move to be over with. At the same time, we are grateful that my mom is still around and able to be a part of our lives.
My daughters, who are young adults, form the other slice of “bread” in my “sandwich.” They are wonderful, smart, and talented women. Although they are just getting started with their “grownup” lives, I am confident that they will do well, and I know I do not really have to worry about them. But of course, I do—I’m their mother!
I’m not a fan of the term “Sandwich Generation.” It seems superficial and artificial—this is not the first time people have had to deal with both parents and children or grandchildren. Perhaps we are simply the generation that whines about it. I don’t feel “sandwiched” between my mom and my daughters, although, of course, there have been times when I have felt stressed or pressured. Also, the term makes me hungry.
Sandwiches themselves might be generational. (Have you noticed how my blog posts always end up being about food?) I’m certain as the popularity of particular foods changes, so do sandwiches. What was popular in 1920 or 1950 is not necessarily popular in 2013. The comic strip character, Dagwood Bumstead, husband of the title character, Blondie, created the first of his famous huge sandwiches in the 1930s. My father, who was a teenager in the 1930s, loved sandwiches. He was particularly fond of sardine sandwiches with mounds of sliced, raw onions on top. Actually, any sandwich he ate had mounds of onions on top. My younger daughter also loves raw onions.
My husband recalls being totally intimidated the first time he was invited to my family’s house to eat bagels, cream cheese, lox and other Jewish brunch essentials. We were both in high school at the time (cute, right?), and he had never seen, much less eaten these, to him, exotic foods. I’m pretty sure though after he concocted his first sandwich, it was love at first bite.
When I was a child living in Dallas, lox, cream cheese, bagels, rye bread, and Jewish deli meats were not available there. My family would eat them whenever we returned to the Philadelphia area. Sometimes when my father went to Philadelphia to buy antiques for my parents’ business in Dallas, he also brought back Jewish rye bread, bagels, and the yummy food to put on them. I’m certain these foods are available all over the United States now, so generations growing up in Dallas and other places are not now deprived of these sandwiches. Yes, they can be part of the Jewish sandwich generation.
Of course, I was born in a city famous for its sandwich. I refer, of course, to the Philly cheese steak. It is a sandwich that has inspired awe, envy, and battles—not to mention grease stains and high cholesterol in its fans. I will leave the fans to post their praises of this sandwich—after they finish eating and have a chance to wash the grease off their hands.
Sandwiches are not my favorite food, but I do enjoy them sometimes. One of my daughters and I have come up with a sandwich we love. It’s fresh mozzarella, spinach, and tomatoes on black bread, smeared with pesto mayonnaise. The whole thing is then baked or grilled until the cheese melts. It’s great in the summer when there are wonderful tomatoes and basil. Two generations loving this sandwich.
But back to my mom. Later this week, my husband and I are going back to her apartment to do some more packing. I think I’ll bring sandwiches for lunch–one of my daughters gave me some ideas. Yes, I suppose I must be part of the sandwich generation.
“I’ve got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches – it’s either very new cheese or very old meat.”
-Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple by Neil Simon (Paramount Pictures, 1968)