“I knew life would continue with ups and downs…..But for now, I felt free.” Laurie James wrote a candid, heartfelt, and revealing memoir. Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go catalogs her long quest to belong and chronicles her battles with a tempestuous marriage and elder care.
I eagerly devoured her writing. It is mesmerizing and engaging. I found her story to be extremely relevant, especially as a woman and a daughter facing the same prospect in respect to parents. James explores traumatic childhood episodes that led to estrangement with one of her siblings. Although close to her mother, the author always felt she was not good enough and that her mother was somewhat aloof. Later revelations point to the reasons for the distance, perceived or not, by her mother.
James struggled for years with a marriage stuck in a quagmire. She tried counseling, both individual and couple, along with meditation and yoga to cope with a husband who appeared disaffected and indifferent. As a mother to four daughters, she juggled numerous responsibilities on the home front while increasingly assuming the complicated care for her elderly parents.
I found her difficulties with elder care to be the most compelling part of her story. As it often happens, the obligation for the care of elderly parents falls to the daughter(s). James learned quickly she could not rely on her brother nor her husband for support or assistance, when sorting out snarled issues pertaining to her parents. She indeed was a member of the “sandwich generation,” caring for both of her parents’ mounting medical needs while she still had children at home. I had great compassion for James as she described her myriad of issues with caregivers. It became a full time job for her. It’s an insurmountable problem as aging parents cannot afford assisted living or suffer from increasing illness and medical complexities. I was impressed by her proactivity and her determination. Being a patient’s advocate is no easy task, particularly when it involves your parents.
Sandwiched is an enlightening read. Juggling generations is a huge feat and James deserves credit for her devotion and care to her parents, even if it often came at her own expense. Some of her situations were resolved, while new ones arose. Ultimately, James discovered her freedom and reconciled her past in a manner and method that worked for her. Life is now on her terms and I hope she is relishing it.