On Friday, March 13th, the office where I usually toil (using that term very loosely) sent everyone home due to the pandemic. I’ve been a basement businessperson ever since. There are pluses and minuses, but one huge plus is Casual Monday-Friday.

I’ve worn long pants a grand total of about 5 hours in the past 4 months. Once was for my wife’s niece’s outdoor wedding.

(I changed into shorts for the reception….)

Yesterday, the long pants were for a funeral. My friend John’s father passed away last weekend. John gave the eulogy, and it was beautiful, because it was all about gratitude. Gratitude that his dad’s battle with kidney cancer was brief and not too painful. Gratitude for the hospice workers, the hospital caregivers, the senior living center where his parents spent the final chapter of their lives after moving to Cincinnati 9 years ago (John’s mom passed a year and a half ago). He was also grateful that his kids were understanding when he had to leave a family event early to tend to his parents’ needs. Grateful for his wife’s kindness and patience over the past decade.

All of the reasons really resonated, but especially the last one. It’s one thing for a son or daughter to serve as a “first responder” for an aging parent… but if that person is married, their spouse “inherits” a lot of the duties as well — helping out and/or picking up the slack at home when their partner is dealing with his/her parents.

For the final decade and a half of his life, my dad lived with my older sister and her husband and their three kids in a Brooklyn brownstone. It was a bit like The King of Queens, minus the laugh track.

My sister surely deserves sainthood for dealing with Dad’s literal and figurative baggage, but I should never forget that my brother-in-law was a big part of that equation too. For him, and countless others who are part of the “sandwich generation,” the “happily ever after” of marriage will likely involve a lot of sacrifice on behalf of their senior in-laws.

I’m grateful for my brother-in-law’s kindness and patience. And I’m grateful that my friend John reminded me about it. It was worth the long pants.