During the summer of 2002 I spent over 3 months living with my parents in Visalia, CA. I had been consulting and freelancing at the time - after my previous company beached itself - which is just another way for saying the partially employed unemployed.
But that's not why I lived with them. I actually lived in Santa Cruz with my then fiance now wife Amy.
No, my father was very ill and my parents were also caretakers of my grandmother at the time. My sister lived in a house behind my parents and definitely helped out, but she had two children of her own to care for.
We, however, had none.
It was a perfect storm that I could help my family traverse. My dad pulled through. Grandma went to stay with other family temporarily. I went home.
Fast forward to today: my parents live in Oregon, 13 hours away drive time, and although they have a loving and supportive church community network, the distance takes a caretaker toll on the family.
And we now, however, have a child. A baby. A wee little dependent one.
My mother's been in the hospital two times in the past month but we could only be there for one of them. They've actually both been in and out of the hospital over the past few years - remote and out of immediate view.
We're more involved in understanding their healthcare needs these days and doing what we can to help, but it's just not the same when you don't live next door or even in the same town. Goodness, an hour away would work.
I wrote about being a sandwich earlier this year - caring for parents and baby - and we've only just begun. Thankfully one or the other of my folks have been well enough to care for the other - never simultaneously.
Unfortunately they keep making lengthy necessary/unnecessary trips that increases exponentially the probability of disaster. I love my folks, but c'mon. If they were both healthy, wealthy and wise...
But if anything bad ever happened simultaneously, or singularly tragic, on the road and away from home, that's when the universe opens and swallows us whole; into the whale belly goes Jonah.
Saints we're not. I'm just all about containment and sustained quality of life for all of us. Everything else can go to hell.