I realized as some point in the middle of the holiday liturgy that this last decade has been a most difficult one for us. Beginning in January 2000, here's an abbreviated chronology:
- January 2000 - a dear aunt died after heart surgery
- February 2000 - my mother-in-law died unexpectedly in her sleep
- Spring 2000 - trying to help one child find the "right" college, all while
grieving his grandmother
- Spring 2000 - one child is grappling with clinical depression
- September 2001 - one child leaves for college
- September 2001 - September 11th - particularly close to home for those of us in the greater Washington DC area. Almost every family I worked with at that time was impacted directly - or had a co-worker who was.
- September 2002 - our second child leaves for college; I began a new job
- October 2002 - the Washington area sniper struck - six victims were killed within five miles of our house
- January 2003 - I was "let go" from my job (first time ever! Two weeks before my 50th birthday)
- June 2003 - began a job as interim religious school director
- May 2004 - one child graduates from college; is unable to find a job
- July 2004 - gall bladder surgery
- July 2004 - my mother's health continues to decline; she becomes a recluse
- Spring 2005 - one child developes a health condition, which results in a 10-day period of hospitalization
- May 2005 - second child "walked" across the stage; graduation pending completion of several credits
- November 2006 - auto accident: hit head on, car totaled; walked away with "only" a broken toe and some mobility issues
- November 2006 - second child returns home, needing to complete some coursework by January
- Winter-Spring 2007 - child's health problems increase
- June 2007 - leave job and open my consulting business
- Winter 2007-08 - child hospitalized twice
- September 07 - my father has emergency surgery; does not go well; hospitalized for almost 2 weeks
- Summer 08 - mom's dementia is constant; losing weight; my father struggles
- Winter 08-09 - my father-in-law meets a new health challenge; we feel helpless to assist
- December 09 - mom goes into home hospice care
- February 09 - mom goes into a nursing home for hospice care
- April 09 - spend a week with my dad and mother - dementia is total; there's no time but "right this instant" - the strain on my father is worrisome
- June 09 - my mother dies - her death a release for all
- August 09 - I have cataract surgery on one eye (second eye scheduled for 10/14)
- September 09 - a friend of my son's from college days dies unexpectedly - from an infection picked up in the hospital. We are shell-shocked.
There have been some blessings along the way: children both graduated from college, both currently gainfully employed in jobs they like and which allow them to contribute to the communal weal; I find that my consulting business is doing well - I'm grateful for the colleagues who support me; my husband and I have celebrated 31 years of marriage - and we're still going strong! My mother's death has provided a release for many of us. It was good to spend time with my brothers and sisters-in-law when we were home for the funeral. I've been involved in starting a non-profit tzedakah organization; and currently sit on the board of another (educational) nonprofit. My child's health appears to have stabilized - and we're all rejoicing about that! Cousins' children get married - it's nice to gather for something other than funerals! We've found a place we dream about retiring to... and anticipate that the best is yet to come. We traveled to Israel.... and are determined to return. Our finances, which took a hit because of high medical costs and job changes, are beginning to stabilize and improve. Perhaps most importantly, all four of us are working -- the three of them full-time and me part-time.
In the listing of our challenges (above), I am struck by two things: 1) how truly my husband and I fit the profile as members of the "sandwich" generation; and 2) that the feelings of being overwhelmed and/or sad that I sometimes have stem from reasonable causes.
Some thoughts on looking ahead tomorrow.