“It’s a prime time of my life, and I basically gave it away.”

Julie Winokur uprooted her husband Ed Kashi and two children from San Francisco, California to New Jersey to take care of Herbie, her 83-year-old father with dementia. This film is an intimate portrait of a family who is “doing the right thing” but are struggling with the demands of caregiving and managing daily lives of work and school.

Julie Winokur with Father at HospitalYou witness the love and the anguish of a multi-generational household making things work; it seems like the mental health of all, especially Julie, are in peril. The stakes are high, but so are the consequences if they chose a different course.

Although “The Sandwich Generation” primarily focuses on the voices of the caregivers, the most agonizing and heartbreaking part of the film comes at about the seven-minute mark. In this scene, a deconstruction crew is cleaning out Herbie’s home that he’s lived in for more than 40 years. Glass is crashing, boxes of his personal items are being heaved into a dumpster, and he’s left standing in his garage holding an old set of golf clubs he doesn’t want to let go. We never really get to know the man at the core of this picture. He’s discussed, he’s photographed, he’s cared for, he even sings a little at the end, but he remains on the periphery in a sense. And this scene grabs the onlooker and shakes us.

Looking for an image that could capture the depth of this week’s show on the “far shore of aging” resulted in this complicated portrait on the spectrum of caregiving from MediaStorm. But it also introduced me to an incredible series of photographs by Ed Kashi titled “Aging in America.” Eight years later, it’s more important now than ever.

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Reflections

Thank you so very much for making this documentary.  It is an absolutely fabulous piece.  I am a single mother who has gone through this with my father who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma IV and am now entering the stage of going through my mother's aging process.  You really shed light on our society who seems to have left the elderly behind.  It's about doing the "right thing" and showing/modeling this type of living (and choices) to our children-- to show a greater sense of caring!  Bless you.

Wonderful story. It reminds me how my husband and I searched for a house near our parents (2000 miles away from our old house) that could accommodate aging parents.

We enjoy their nearness and celebrate their continued good health. We are all lucky, but realize this time may be fleeting.

Sara, did you end up moving back to Minnesota then and around the corner from your parents? What's it like living down the street? Do you pop-in a lot more now?

A very moving and also honest piece. And by showing us the many implications of doing "the right thing", it shows us all the meaning of love and grace.

 
There are times in ones life where it is a "choiceless choice" to care for another. Thank you both for sharing your grace and awareness.  

apples