I’m not the only sandwich generation mom on my block. On one side of us is an apartment building. On the other side lives a couple in their early forties, plus their 4-year-old son and the man’s elderly father, who uses a wheelchair.
The 4-year-old loves to come over any time he sees anyone from my family out in the yard. He and my 14-year-old son have had a couple of adorable sword fights with harmless play swords. The “fights” consist of the little one swinging away, while my big guy blocks his blows for several minutes until he decides to end it by letting one land and conceding defeat. The neighbor boy also loves to follow my husband around while he’s doing yard work and attempts to help him. When my husband finishes one task, the kid will ask “What are we working on next?”
This morning, I decided to go all domestic and make blueberry pancakes for the fam, since I had a pint of fresh blueberries in the fridge. As I was flipping the last one from the electric skillet, I heard a knock on the door. I still needed to unplug the skillet and attend to a couple of other details, so I hollered for someone else to answer the door please. My daughter went.
As soon as she opened the door, I heard the 4-year-old’s voice saying “We need help! Poppy fell over.” That got my attention.
I ran to the door and saw him standing there, barefoot and still in his PJs. I said, “Tell me what happened.”
“Poppy fell over and he’s laying on the deck and he can’t get up, and my mom’s hurt, too,” he told me. That really got my attention. I couldn’t imagine what might have happened that his mom and his grandfather would both be hurt. Or, I should say, I could imagine too many different things. I checked my pocket to make sure my cell phone was there, grabbed his hand and said, “Show me.”
The poor kid had run across the gravel part of their drive barefoot, but I carried him over the that stretch on the way back. They have a deck on the back of their house, with a ramp leading up to it. They also have a large privacy fence, and it prevented me from seeing anything until we got through the gate and came around to the back yard. Relieved doesn’t cover what I felt when I saw his mom standing on the deck, looking…okay. His grandfather, however, was lying there next to his wheelchair.
My neighbor (the mom) quickly told me what happened. Her husband was gone. Her father-in-law had been out on the deck and decided to try to get back inside by himself, rather than calling her for help. But there’s a threshold between the deck and the inside floor. When his wheelchair hit the threshold, it tipped over and he fell out. She said she took off at a run as soon as she realized he fell, and something pulled in her leg. Thus her son telling me she was hurt, too. Her father-in-law did not hit his head, and he could move all of his limbs. Nothing appeared broken. Mostly, she needed another adult to help her lift him back up into the wheelchair. With the two of us, we managed it, one under each armpit.
We got him back into the house, and her settled with some ice on her leg before I went home. She was calling her father-in-law’s doctor as I left to see if there were any symptoms she should look out for that would indicate a more serious injury than we could see. I checked on them later in the day, and they all appeared to be doing okay.
I suppose it takes a village not only to raise our children, but to care for the older generation, too.