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  • Writer's pictureSGFIRSTAID

Love Wins All: A Sandwich Generation's Story

To the 16-year-old me,

Do you remember when you first realised that the inevitable was lurking around the corner? 

The all-year-round summer was at its hottest and you were just playing football with your friends. Out of nowhere, news that your closest friend had passed, broke and left you in a state of shock. 

sandwich generation's teen time

Shafiq’s friend’s sudden passing gave him a wake-up call. 

This wake-up call made you learn to appreciate your parents, but how I wished you knew to study harder! That was the only regret I truly have for you. But… You have to be prepared for the future. 

You’ll go through the ups and downs of life, and marry the love of your life, but you’ll be faced with emotional turmoil as well. 

sandwich generation's marriage

The couple tied the knot in 2022. 

Let’s talk about the good news first, we became first-time parents! Shireen, our bundle of joy, came to us as a wonderful gift. 

sandwich generation's family

Shafiq’s Universe - Syairah (Left) and Shireen (Middle).

But, we also found ourselves tending to our ailing parents at the same time. 

sandwich generation's young time with mom

7-year-old Shafiq with his mom. 

Our mom was diagnosed with severe bronchitis which is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes that can cause breathing problems. 

The scary part was, that our daughter who was barely a few months old then, was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a common infant virus infection that was unfortunately transmitted from our parents’ coughing fit, and that left you feeling overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness. 

There was a time when I used to think, 

“What if I wasn’t capable of being a father?” 

“It feels like my efforts were unavailing.”

A decade passed with that question still in my mind.

But I finally realised something. 

I want you to know that you’re not alone, you’re not a failure as a father or as a son. 

We did the best we could at every age. 

You are still loved by every one of your family members. 

In fact, you’d be very proud of me, for being able to handle the emotional and financial burden as one of the key breadwinners in the family. Shout out to our wife who has been and continues to be a remarkably understanding woman throughout our hardships. 

To put a name to this phenomenon, it’s called being a part of the ‘Sandwich Generation’. I bet you didn’t know that you’d fall into this category, let alone know what that means. 

As we grew older, I gradually settled into the role of being a caregiver for both our parents and daughter. I want you to know there will be stressful and heart-wrenching moments at times, but I promise you, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Even now, as I write this, I am still in the process of learning to become a better man and father, so don’t give up so easily, okay?

Yours sincerely,

33 year-old, Shafiq

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