Tuesday, March 6, 2012

a sandwich, anyone?

I am the tuna salad on a whole wheat roll, mushed between the lettuce and swiss. I am the turkey in the middle of the club sandwich. Heck, I'm also the cheese, mayo and banana peppers. Most of the time, I feel grilled. I am part of the sandwich generation.

Four weeks ago I witnessed the birth of my third granddaughter. The mystery and wonder of new life, Lily is a tiny miracle. So are two-year-old Ari and 8-month-old Ashlyn. They call me Baba and I hope they will treasure their time with me. Together we'll pray, read, bake, garden, hike, swim, and eat ice cream. So much to look forward to.

My children now move in and out of my life like yo-yo's. With each passing year, they roll back to me less and less. As it should be. They are busy with families, careers, friends and figuring out adult life. With four of them, well six, there is frequent enough contact to keep me on my toes.

Then there is my father, age 87, unable to completely care for himself. He's imprisoned by dementia. While I'm not his caregiver, my visits and phone calls are highly emotional for me. Oh, he still knows me, but when I call, I get the feeling he's still trying to be my in-charge dad. The strong and smart provider he used to be.

"I had a meeting yesterday. Someone wanted to talk with me about my experience in franchising," he told me today. "And they served spaghetti! Can you believe that?" It's all at once endearing, and sad. I want to go spend a couple of hours with him, but 400 miles is a little far for that. And so I wonder how much farther he'll slip before my next visit.

This is the meaning of the sandwich generation. It's a huge hoagie of good and delicious things: layers of love from delicate newborns to frail fathers. From tall young men and blossoming daughters to mothers like me who feel unsure of our role. Our hearts drink in the tenderness of new grandchildren, and weep at the slipping away of our parents. At times, we are physically and emotionally spent. Other days, we are bursting with energy and joy.

I am reminded of Christ's words to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul responded, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." God met Paul's need, giving him the grace needed to meet his challenges.  And Paul didn't just make the best of it - he made the most of it. Grace does that.* Wow, what encouragement!

I navigate these years with acceptance, hope and the promise of God's grace. And when I am weak, it's ok. I know He is strong.

* these thoughts borrowed from With the Word by Warren Wiersbe.

1 comment:

Karen Dawkins said...

You're far more beautiful than tuna salad. :)
Thanks for sharing your sandwich life with me. I am, apparently, a pickle. Marinating. Waiting... to become part of a sandwich.

Love you!!!! And the blessing that you are to sooooo many!

Praying that you will always find peace in God's grace!