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“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 9 September 2017  

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  The Sandwich Generation
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
“Friends come and go, but life begins and ends with family.” This is a great quote I found inside a Dove chocolate wrapper some years back. While it has taken a while to come to fruition, the message inside that wrapper holds special meaning for our family.
   
   Andra and I are members of the recently categorized, “Sandwich Generation.” It has nothing to do with food, rather with how we are positioned in society. We are simultaneously caring for our parents in their golden years and raising teenagers to become young adults.
   
   When we married 21 years ago, the idea of being close to home just wasn’t at the top of our list. Many years and military service moves later, we have come to value proximity to our parents and family. Since we never spent more than four years in one location, it was time to declare a home base. I left the Air Force in 2008, and we set roots in Falcon, Colorado.
   
   Between 2010 and 2016, Andra’s sister, Suzanne, with best friend, Robin, and mom Peggy; brother Jon and family; Andra’s parents; and my parents all moved from Kansas, Ohio and New Jersey to Falcon. We’ve established a good balance of cohesion and independence between the 18 of us. It’s not the family compound we once joked about, but we all live anywhere between walking distance and eight minutes of each other.
   
   My parents live behind us, and Andra’s parents live 3 miles away. I have added visiting my parents each day before work to my daily routine. We found it necessary to coordinate our collective calendars so we know when our parents have appointments, in addition to our own daily schedule.
   
   Our parents are still mobile and mentally agile so as not to need much care. It is, however, important to gain knowledge of their medications and an understanding of their overall health situation. This insight wasn’t so easy when both sets of parents lived in Ohio.
   
   Vicinity and diminishing eyesight has lent itself to carpooling to family dinners and celebrations. Among other activities, we help with moving objects up and down the stairs; small repairs when needed; and occasionally helping to get the confounded computer to work.
   
   It is a relief knowing we are immediately available to assist them when they’ll need us more in the coming years. We no longer have to wonder who we would find to help if they were still in Ohio. Our girls do a great job with helping their grandparents whenever possible. It is valuable to have the one-on-one time and develop lifelong memories of their time together.
   
   Our time and parental responsibilities for our daughters remain consistent and lengthy. Yet, small nuances let us know we are all getting older. We continue to help with schoolwork and papers, provide transportation to music lessons and recitals, carpool to school, attend teacher conferences, arrange medical and dental appointments; and order college books for concurrent enrollment at Pikes Peak Early College. We broke into uncharted waters this year as we added out-of-state college and scholarship applications and driving lessons for our second oldest daughter.
   
   That is our sandwich. On one side, we have the blessing of nearby parents for us to return the care they gave us long ago. On the other, we’re raising young adults who will be prepared to go out in the world on their own. Of note, our oldest moved away over a year ago. He has since married and has a child with his wife. Now, as new grandparents, I think we just might qualify for the Double Decker Sandwich Generation.
  
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