Friday, September 7, 2012

The "Meat" of the Sandwich Generation

The “Meat” of the Sandwich Generation

It’s common that Baby Boomers are referred to as the Sandwich Generation ~ taking care of elderly parents and kids/grandkids at the same time.  You could say that it’s being the “meat” of the sandwich.

Those of us who have done it probably wouldn’t change a thing, especially if we’ve lost our parents.  I have.  Even though it was very rewarding, I’d have asked a thousand more questions.  Why did you live there?  Who was your best friend growing up?  Why do my kids act like that?  Did I act like?  Did you ever make the news?  What is something you don’t want to tell me that I should know?  You get the idea.

Since I didn’t get the chance or know what to ask, here are five questions every adult child should consider asking their aging parents, while they still have a chance.

Where in the world did you live?  Most of us don’t relate to our parents as being real people until we are older.  But our parents actually had a life and adventures before they had kids and after the kids left home.  After our parents are deceased, finding and getting information about that part of their life becomes very difficult.  And you will need to know about it.

What other names did you use?  I’m always surprised at how many kids didn’t know their mother was married before, sometimes more than once. Domestic partners, adoptions, absentee fathers, marriages, divorces, and other circumstances can make records difficult to get when they aren’t your own or you don’t know what to look for.  Find out where copies are.

Where might you have hidden papers or money?  Some parents don’t want to tell their kids this because of family dynamics.  In some cases that may be true.  However, if you have a good relationship, explain how important it is to know where bank accounts are, where jewelry is, if they bought a life insurance policy, where are important papers, and where they hide cash.  It takes much longer to search and rescue items than just rescue them.

Is there anyone you want me to contact after you’re gone?  My father had the opportunity to call people before he died “just to say goodbye.”  It was fun listening to him make these calls because there was no pretense about it. Only meaningful words were exchanged. If your parents don’t get this opportunity, it may be important to them that you do it.

Is there anything you want to do with me now?  The most important thing you have is time.  At the end of your parents’ life it’s rewarding to have great memories of time spent together. My father asked me to read him some of my favorite bible verses.  I read Hebrews 11.  It’s now an annual ritual on his birthday which is also his deceased day.  I look forward to it!

So, while you are busy chauffeuring kids to practice, making lunches, visiting your parents, spending time with your spouse, running errands, cleaning house, running a company, doing laundry, seeing friends, shopping, sleeping and eating, remember that even though you are the meat of the sandwich, you should always take time to leave the bread alone and keep the main thing the main thing.

Tisha M Diffie
Estate Closure Expert

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