Welcome To The “Panini Generation”


(photo credit: Chef Mick)

Welcome To The “Panini Generation” I always laugh when people tell me The Todd and I are in the “Sandwich Generation,” you know- when you’re busy caring for young children and elderly parents at the same time? I find the phrase too tame. We, my friends, are the Panini Generation. A piece of cheese thrown between two slices of bread, then stuck in a brutal Panini press and seared into a melting lump.

I’ve never felt this more than a couple of weekends ago. My wonderful older brother assumes a lot of the daily ins and outs of our father’s care. Dad’s descended into dementia and has some health problems, so he’s in a care center. So my brother calls me. “Hey, Erin. We’re going out of town for a week. Can you check in on Dad?”

Stupid me. “Sure, no problem. Where are you guys go-” All I hear is the roar of a car engine and then his call disconnects. Within ten minutes, there’s a call from the care center.

“Erin Collard?”

“Hi, that’s me, how’s my Dad? Everything okay?”

Uncomfortable silence. “Could you come up? There’s an…issue.”

The “issue” is that at the age of 74, my father’s still a relentless ladies’ man, even in the Alzheimer’s wing. Apparently, one of the residents he’d been “courting” was married. I’m not blaming her for not mentioning it, she’s also a dementia patient. But there were words with the woman’s husband, and there might have been a brief bout of fisticuffs. I hear this from the lead nurse with my head in my hands. “I’m so sorry,” I groaned, “I’ll talk to him right away.”

So I take Dad out to lunch. He refuses to eat anything nutritious until I get him an ice cream. I am stung by the sheer unfairness of this. “You would have never let me have an ice cream before lunch, Dad!”

He smiles at me blandly. “Where’s my shake?” There is a long, exhausting negotiation about writing an apology note and getting something nice for the nurses. “I’m not apologizing for anything!” He hisses, “I will not apologize for love.”

(You see now why he’s got a way with the women. The man is smooth.)

After two shakes and a single mouthful of a $10.00 burger, Dad is finished and we head back to the care center. I hand off cookies and flowers to the nurses and an apology note I’ve forged in my Dad’s handwriting.


(One of the foster kitties & our emotionally needy dog Gille)

By the time I get home, all I want is to collapse on the couch and force The Todd to listen to my care center saga. There’s no time, because our 5 year old Zoe’s been taking care (which means WE’RE taking care) of four kitties for my sister Juli, who fosters baby animals for the Humane Society. Anyway, the kitties got loose and shot off in all directions, so everyone’s on their knees trying to drag them out from underneath the furniture. I’m cleaning the cat box when Juli comes by with some antibiotics for the sneezy kitty. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here!” I’m grateful to finally vent, “I’m taking over for Kelly while he’s on vacation and…”

Juli finishes dosing the kitty and starts laughing as I mention lunch. “You let Dad have ice cream? Did you forget he’s lactose intolerant? He’s going to be throwing up all evening.”

It looks like I have more apology notes to write to the care center staff.


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