Blue Suede Shoes and a Blue-Eyed Baby

By Ann Ipock

Blue Suede Shoes and a Blue-Eyed Baby

Sandwich generation is a term given to Baby Boomers who are sandwiched between aging parents and our adult children and grandchildren.

I was recently interviewed by our newspaper book editor as part of this new phenomenon, the sandwich generation—something I’m smack dab in the middle of. For instance, this year has brought challenges with two hospitalizations in our family. In February, Katie spent several days in the hospital in Charlotte with pregnancy complications. She had low amniotic fluid which was discovered about the sixth month. I’m happy to report all turned out fine as baby Sarah is healthy and happy. Katie delivered three days shy of 37 weeks, so technically, Sarah was a preemie. She was born March 6, weighing 4 lbs. 9 oz. at 18 ½ inches. But she was a fighter—trying to lift her head hours after birth—and did not have to be placed in the NICU, endearing our love even further. I memorized every square inch of her those two weeks of a blessed stay in their home, taking in her baby smells, touching that powdery soft skin, watching her blue eyes open a little more each day, gently rubbing her blonde hair, and listening to those newborn baby sounds. I kept a dairy to read to her when she’s a little older.

As a side note, Katie and Michael moved back to Wilmington in May, a double joy—I mean, triple joy! I see our precious angel (now weighing over 14 lbs.) often and love babysitting her! As for Russell? OMG, he is over the moon! Often times, we’ll open our cell phones and call each other’s name, “Russell, look!” at her adorable photos. Or, “Ann, look!” at the newest video.

It has been nearly ten years since our last grandchild was born. Carly is now 10 and Madison is 14. Let me just say that in ten years lots of things have changed! For instance, you don’t cover them up with a blanket when they sleep. You don’t give them solid foods for six months. You don’t use a bumper pad in the cradle (or the crib). And the campaign, “back to sleep” means just that; don’t lay babies on their tummy.

Just as things have settled down with Sarah, fast forward to August when my 87 year old dad was hospitalized with pneumonia here in Wilmington. (He lives an hour away.) Navigating the health care system is tricky enough, but the staff and doctors (Gerontologist, GI and Pulmonologist) were great! What wasn’t great was waiting and wondering each day for their rounds at the hospital, some being 8 am and others, 6 pm. He was discharged after ten days with home health care, and we hired a private 24/7 service since he is now on oxygen.

In addition, we now have four adults (we siblings) taking turns visiting and helping out. My brother lives in the same neighborhood but we three sisters live out of town. Dad continues to mend (thank God) and surprises us daily with his optimism and sharp wit. He often rides around with my brother when Steve has a real estate appraisal to complete. In fact, Dad’s the first one in the car when offered an outing.

But it’s true that each day brings its own worries, in general. Here in my home, a broken ice maker in the fridge and a leaking dishwasher (resulting in buying all new appliances) and a dying lawn that had to be replaced, plus Russell recently broke his big toe. I had a bout of a stomach virus. In other words, life goes on. Gardening, traveling and my super-fun (and crazy!) aerobics class have kept me sane. Not to mention my 45 year high school reunion last weekend. The two best parts? Reconnecting with old friends then—and now on Facebook. The other was walking on the beach the next morning with Russell, enjoying the bright sun and September sky, waves rolling in, collecting shells, and reminiscing about the night before and the future that lies ahead.

And that future includes the oldest person in our family (Dad) and the youngest (Sarah) being watched over, cuddled and loved extra hard because right now they need it the most. But I’m happy to be in the middle. A recent video I made with my phone showed Sarah chatting away. (Never mind the fact that the file is too large. Ack! Don’t even get me started.) Her daily feats astound me. Katie said Sarah held out her arms recently as if to say, “Pick me up.” She loves to be read to, and she adores her 70 pound puppy, Gus, who makes her laugh. When I lay her head on my shoulder and sing, gently rocking her to sleep, I feel pure bliss.

And Dad is just about strong enough to go on our pre-planned cruise to the Bahamas in October—his treat. He’s being weaned off the oxygen (mainly using it at night) and is picking out his clothes early, being the man about town (and a former shoe store owner). He told me yesterday he was going to be sure and pack his blue suede shoes because he intends to dance like there is no tomorrow. What a joy to be able to witness that!

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell. www.annipock.com

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