When I was a little girl, my father used to tell me that he was only as happy as his most unhappy child. This was his way of telling me that when I was hurt or troubled, he felt it too. Now that I am a parent, I understand his perspective all too well. However, I never expected, that I, being part of the sandwich generation, would feel this same way about my parents.
It is an interesting time in my life to be caring for parents at the same time that I am caring for children. I worry over them as I do my own flesh and blood. My dear old dad is sick and he is never far from my mind. He is always there, he is with me wherever I go, whatever I do.
I in no way am his primary caregiver. I simply play a supporting role, and yet the worry of him, of his hurt and trouble, weighs heavy on my mind.
Last week my friend's sister was diagnosed with leukemia. Still in a state of shock, she questioned how one lives with cancer, how do you go on after the diagnosis. I suppose I have grown accustomed to this aspect of my life having witnessed cancer in both of my parents. I couldn't even articulate to her what to do, how to press forward...it has become so much a part of me that I am on automatic pilot.
Oft times, I find tears sliding down my cheeks as I do the dishes, or fold the laundry. I cry happy/sad tears when my children make me proud...happy that they are so amazing to me, and sad that my dad will miss so much of their lives. Sometimes I am quick to anger, my patience runs thin and my fuse is short, and I simply don't know why. And then I remember. I am so used to carrying around this stress that I forget how it wears me down.
My dad is on vacation for a week and my mind is at rest. For while he is away I do not have the same worry. I don't have the constant nag in the back of my head...call and check on dad, I wonder how his night went, how his pain is; maybe I should bake some cookies today and drop them off, and so on. Sometimes it is hard to play the supportive role, always on the peripheral wondering what to do and how to help. But when he is away, my mind is at ease, for I know the only thing I can do for him is love him. And maybe that is enough.