Archives for category: sandwich generation

Recently, my aging mother received a telephone bill that was significantly higher than it has been in several years and so she, being her feisty self, promptly called the Phone Company and complained.  At the end of her negotiations, she wound up with four calling features, and a bill ten dollars a month less than before.  Yay mom!

At the same time that my mom negotiated this new plan on her phone, she also purchased a new set of cordless phones.  This is where I enter the picture.  Mom was completely unable to set up the new phones because her fingers “wouldn’t work” to plug in the chargers, nor could she transfer the numbers from her old phones into her new ones.  I tried to explain to her that the process to add numbers to a phonebook from Caller ID was pretty seamless, but she asked me to come over and help.

When I arrived, I remarked to her that I was glad she now had Call Answer (which, after years of busy signals we had all been begging her to get) and she asked me why I would think she had Call Answer.  I told her that I had left her a message on her new Call Answer but she insisted she didn’t even know she had it and certainly hadn’t set it up yet.

Hmmm…I thought.  That’s odd.  I was sure I had heard a new message and that the phone had picked up on only one ring.  Maybe not.

So I asked her what features she did have on her phone and she told me she wasn’t sure.  We decided to call the Phone Company and find out.  Sure enough, Call Answer was one of her new features and I asked the gentleman to tell me how to set it up for her.

We hung up and, armed with her temporary passcode, I attempted to set up her Call Answer.

“I’m sorry but you have entered an incorrect password,” the computer said.

I tried again.

“The password you are trying to enter is incorrect,” the computer told me again.

I whispered to mom, “Are you positive you haven’t set up your call answer because I think I remem…”

“NO! I told you I haven’t!  I haven’t TOUCHED it!”  Mom was now getting cross.

“Okay…it’s just that your temporary password, which is your phone number, isn’t working, so I thought maybe you might have changed it to your usual password.”

“I haven’t changed ANYTHING!” Mom insisted.

I tried again, without any luck, and so I decided to call back to the Phone Company to tell them something was wrong.

The gentleman put me on hold to investigate the problem and, once again, I repeated to my mom that I thought I remembered leaving her a message.  I told her that her voice recording had been different, but that, since then, her recording was back to her old answering machine.

My mom was now very exasperated with me and said, “I’m TELLING YOU I HAVEN’T SET UP ANYTHING!  I haven’t changed any passwords!  I haven’t done ANYTHING….The ONLY thing was something that they had that was THEIR voice saying… SOMETHING… and I didn’t want THEIR voice so I did my OWN voice but that is the ONLY thing… and other than that I HAVEN’T changed my password and I haven’t set up ANYTHING.”

AHA!  Crystal clear.  Clear as mud.  Finally.

The man then came back on the phone and I politely informed him that I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, I was sorry, and I would call him back only if I needed to.

I hung up the phone, accessed Call Answer and typed in my mom’s favourite password.  Then I pressed speaker.

The voice ringing through the kitchen said, “You have thirteen messages.”


Mom had watched me type in her code and her jaw dropped.  Then she burst into tears.

Explanation?  Mom set up Call Answer and forgot.  Then she had left her answering machine on, so it was beating Call Answer to the punch when she wasn’t home.  And Call Answer was taking messages whenever she was on the phone.  Apparently people had been telling her for a couple of weeks that they were leaving her messages but she wasn’t getting them.  Now we knew why.

We held one another for several minutes and cried…

This getting older stuff sure isn’t for babies.


This morning I had it all together.  Thanks to lots of help from my husband, our daughter was dressed and brushed and had eaten her breakfast well before it was time to leave.  Her lunch was packed and I knew that my day at school was impeccably prepared;  I didn’t need to arrive early to finish any last minute details.  I indulged in a longer-than-normal shower and was just taking my time getting dressed when the phone rang.

My mom was crying on the other end of the phone.  She told me that she really didn’t feel well at all and she was going to call 911.  My switched flipped from easy-breezy-morning (insert birds chirping) to frantic gotta-call-a-supply-gotta-get-daughter-to-school-gotta-get-over-to-mom’s-to-meet-the-ambulance-ohmygosh-is-mom-having-a-stroke-gotta-get-to-the-hospital.

It was zero to sixty in one second flat.  The Mustang Cobra has nothing on me.

I drove my daughter to school and then headed over to my mom’s house.  When I arrived there, the ambulance had left for the hospital, so I turned around and raced to meet them there.  I arrived at the Emergency department and she was hooked up to a machine measuring her blood oxygen, heart rate, and respirations, as well as an ECG.

My mom told me how grateful she was that I had come and then she asked me what day it was.  I told her it was Wednesday.  After about ten minutes, all of the hospital staff had cleared the room and my mom began talking about all she had planned for the day and all the things that needed cancelling.

She told me that she had started to worry about her health the night before when she needed to go to her daytimer over and over again, yet still couldn’t remember when her appointments were.

She then asked, “What day is it today?”

“Hmmm…” I thought.  Then I answered,  “It’s Wednesday, Mom.”

We carried on chatting for a little while when she told me again that her book club was supposed to come to her place that day.  Then she paused and asked, “What day is it today, honey?”

(Yup.  Now I’m worried.)  “It’s Wednesday…What’s the month, Mom?”

“Oh…gosh…I’m not sure,” she answered.  “Give me a second and I’ll figure it out….September?  October?  I know it’s fall.”

(Now I’m really worried.)  I continued gently, “How old are you?”

“Come on now!” she replied “That’s not fair!  I’m not feeling well.  I don’t know!  Give me a second…I was born in 1937, so….”

I waited for about ten seconds and then asked, “How old am I, Mom?”

“Oh geez…uh…now you’ve got me there.”

“Do you know where you are?”

To this she snorted indignantly and answered accurately.  She knew the name of the hospital and our city.  She knew the year I was born, the year she was born, her wedding anniversary, the names of the women in her book club, and many other obscure details about innumerable things.

She had no idea, however, of my age, her age, the month or the year.  She didn’t know my daughter’s age, or her birthdate.  Two days ago this was all rote information.  What was going on?

The only other symptom she had was slightly elevated blood pressure, nausea and a burning sensation throughout her torso, following the nausea.

The doctor ruled out a heart attack and a stroke and, although the nurse said my mom was showing signs of one, he said he felt the term TIA was “over used.”  He said that he saw no concerns with memory, which is truly beyond me.  My mom is a sharp cookie and these details are facts she usually knows like the back of her own hand.

It was a long day of sitting and tests and we were almost on the home stretch, but would not quite be finished in time for me to pick up my daughter from school.  So, I left my mom at the hospital and headed down to the school.  After I picked up my daughter, I headed back up to the hospital and got my mom, who was now all finished.  Next, I headed back down to the south end of the city to take my mom home.  She was still feeling really sick to her stomach, but aside from some factual gaps, she was functioning perfectly.   We arrived at her place and I did some chores for her.  I made her tea and toast, and then I headed back up to our home to get our daughter’s music books and to take her on to piano lessons.

I felt like a ping pong ball on a 10 km long table.

North, South, North, South, North, South….

I am the cheese in the sandwich generation.  I have decided that maybe I am like the Havarti with tiny flakes of hot pepper in it.   I am a combination of spicy and mild, and at the moment I feel like I am riddled with tiny holes.  Today I did an awesome job juggling both mommy and daughter roles.  That makes me flexible like mozzarella.  So, maybe I’m both.

Nevertheless, I’m still smiling.  So, say cheese!

And goodnight….zzzzzz.