Monday, February 2, 2009

What's the Panini Generation?

I generally refer to my parents by their given names, Manini and Fanini, rather than calling them Mom and Dad. Both my parents suffer from Alzheimer's dementia. On their backward journey down through their brains, the distinguishing landmarks that made them into Mom and Dad have mostly disappeared. Using this name distinction helps me to separate the Mom and Dad of my memory with the Fanini and Manini of the present. As you can imagine, I wonder about my own brain a good deal these days. I am suddenly aware of the beginning and ending of life, as I experience it through my own family.

When I was doing my Tour of (assisted living) Homes, again and again I kept bumping up against the label "Sandwich Generation". This term was chirped up by perky Community Connection Directors, those folks whose job it is to shepard dazed and anxious family members into the squeeze chute of old people management. The "Sandwich Generation" are those 40 somethings with young children on one hand, and aging parents on the other. They are the filling pressed between the bread slices of kids and parents. But what if your bread slices are more substantial than Wonder White? What if your bread slices are artisan ciabatta loaves cut in two and jammed between the red-hot grills of an Italian panini press? What if you have two rambunctious growing boys and two petulant declining parents? Do you think you might be a member of the Panini Generation, now or in the future? Then please join me and build upon the funny, practical, surreal and sad experiences that happen to this member of the "Panini Generation".

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