At the risk of alienating more than a few readers, I have a disclosure to make: I am a huge country music fan. It’s true. It’s been almost 25 years now since someone played Mary Chapin Carpenter (who went to my high school, actually) for me and I was hooked.
One of my recent “songs on repeat” is from a band called Old Dominion. It’s called “A Song for Another Time”. It’s about a relationship which is great, but is going to end, and soon. The idea is that we should enjoy it now, and feel the sadness later. This is a common country music theme, I know. To make the cliche worse, as if it could get worse, the descriptions of how amazing things are, and how sad they will be, are just the titles of songs strung together. Brown-Eyed Girl. Sweet Caroline. Always on My Mind. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. You get the idea. Trust me: no one will be writing articles about this tune 50 years from now about how it changed music.
But I am hooked on this song anyway. It captures something in the way that only music can. Like many of you, I have lived almost this exact scenario in a relationship before. (As an aside — I could do a whole other blog on those moments in relationships, of all types, when you know it’s all going to change, either one way or the other. Comes down to only a few and they always stick with you.) And as a Sandwich Generation father, there are moments when I feel like I am living it now.
My daughters just turned 13 in June. I’ve been told by countless parents that the journey from here to 16 is fraught with peril. Occasionally I can see that future, but not today. Today my kids still think I am funny and smart, and mostly like being around me. We have fun together. They make just about anything I’m doing more fun. They still have some innocence and at the same time show flashes of wisdom that make me shake my head at how amazing they are going to be as women.
After the first day of school, I took Sophie to Five Guys and we just hung out and ate dinner together and talked about our days. It was simple, and sweet, and lovely.
My father too is in one of these phases where I recognize that things are about as good as they are going to get. There are more bad days than there used to be and some things that I do for him make me a die a little every time. I wish I didn’t feel that way, but I do. And yet I know the glass is still half full. Many blogs about caregiving are written by women, mostly older than I am, who are caring for very sick parents who need help with the basics, who can’t remember who they are, or are fighting terrible diseases. Much of my time as a Sandwich Generation son is spent just talking, or fixing modest technical issues with his iPad. Last Sunday afternoon we hung out and watched the US Open final, like we have for almost 40 years now. It makes me feel like a kid again and so happy that I still have my father. It was simple, and sweet, and lovely.
In the back of my mind, I know different days are ahead. The moments will come in those relationships when I know they are going to change. As the lyrics go, though – that’s a song for another time.