I have read some stories of parents count down the days when the kids are grown and gone. Being an empty nester is bitter-sweet for me. When my son Levi first moved out, I was confused. He moved alright, his clothes. He would come home just long enough to get something from My bedroom now. One evening, as Levi was about to leave, I told him ‘either totally move out with all your stuff,or you can pay rent on all your stuff instead’ You should have seen the look on his face. He could not believe he would actually take his prized things somewhere else and stash them. I had plans for his old bedroom and if he wanted to come stay the night(what?) he was more than welcome. That went over like a lead balloon. The price of growing up.
After I had my conversation with my son,I had paint samples dancing around in my head, a new bedroom arrangement,a nice place to drink my coffee. I turned my sons old bedroom into my dressing room. I love getting dressed in the morning and putting on pajamas at night. I did not know,how could I, That weekend, my son was lost to a tragic car accident. I took my time cleaning out his bedroom. gone were the importance of having ‘my space’. Everyone has a different story about being an empty nest parent. I love being in my sons bedroom looking at his life in pictures,remembering the time when I was listening to his stereo when he went to work. I laugh now at him telling his mom “I don’t care if you listen to my stereo, just turn it off when you are done using it’. Busted! There is a big world out there waiting for us to enjoy in our second half in life. We are now caring for our aging parents,working,spending time with the grandkids if we have a few. Life is good, I intend to squeeze every second out of life I can.
Two days ago I was getting ready to blog,when my mom called to ask me if I was going to ever(love that word) pick her up for her Doctor Appointment. I called the office to confirm only to find out she didn’t have one that morning. I called her back told her of my findings and set back to work with my blog post. By now, I was out of the mood for writing. So, I decided instead to run some errands thinking I would come back to writing later in the day. No dice. By now, I could not remember the awesome(over done) story I had in mind earlier in the day.
I write a story in my mind sometimes twenty times trying to get just the right wording,story line and the perfect post. One, I had to realize there is no perfect post. I write about what interests me, my middle age life without my husband and son, and moving forward though the pain. I think sometimes I have a hard time because I do not want to write a post that makes someone feel uncomfortable about my personal challenges,but I feel my story can benefit many families who have gone through similar circumstances. I remember a comment I read in my blog I hope did not shape how I do write. I was told my stories are too sad to read. I have read some other blogs about grief and healing, I understand the difficulty in moving forward. I write stories of muddling through my middle age. I am thriving not just surviving.
So I think procrastinating is part of writing. We want the perfect yet unrealistic story to post that we hope everyone who reads it will love. When I write, I remember events in my life that were long since forgotten. I love it when I run into one of my son Levis friends today and we share a story I did not know about. I write often about hug your kids extra tight tonight,tell them you are proud of them and they can reach their goals if they try. We are not promised tomorrow. I am a blessed woman having experienced being a wife and mother even if for a little while. I live in a great neighborhood with good friends who share being empty nesters with me. I do live the good life.
My life is different from many others who are still happily(hopefully) married. I get together often with friends and take a scenic drive with a good girlfriend or being active in my church. I have been working on some home improvements the last couple years. I feel bad I do not have a horror story to share about home improvements gone wrong. Our house was move in ready; three bedrooms, freshly painted, new landscaping, my house is the only one with a porch. If you met the previous owner,you would understand he wanted his house to be different.Works for me. As I confess, I am on my way to becoming a reformed black thumb gardener.I have kept my trees alive in my back yard for twenty years. I tried dead heading my flowers, pruning them back in the Fall, I Do water. All the neighbors agree, our housing tract was probably built on a river bed. How else do you explain the Big rocks we keep finding when we mow every summer. I am almost temped to remove the grass in my back yard,let the rocks come up to the surface and the plant drought tolerant plants. I mean the way the rocks keep showing themselves,I not only will have all the free rocks I need for the project, no more watering or lawn care provider. Works for me.
I have heard it said when we lose a child or a spouse,we live the ‘new normal’. True, my life was forever changed when I tragically lost both my husband and son,but through the grief and healing, I realized their deaths did not mean the death of me as well. I had to find ways to see the joy when the sun came up in the morning, appreciate the chirping of the birds instead of being jealous they were happy and I was not. I had to learn not to isolate myself; I had so many friends who would wonder where I was if I did not show up to church for monday night service, I was always being asked if I have eaten today, people at first keep their distance, being afraid to say the wrong thing to you, I have always knew what I had,when it was time, God helped me to let go.
I am enjoying my middle age life; My husband and I bought our forever home thirty years ago. Our neighborhood was a new sub division with only a few homes. We have made some lasting friendships.Jerry and I thought we would grow old together, we bought our forever home,now we looked forward to starting a family,dreamed of being proud grandparents to our son Levis children,imagined retiring someday. I love my neighborhood,when Jerry and I first moved here, across the street was a big empty field. We knew where the kids were (big kids included)- riding their motorcycles and bikes around the dirt track. Eventually homes were built there, so the kids rode the bikes down by the river nearby and built jumps pretending to compete in a dirt bike race. In the winter, the kids took turns sledding down the hill in front of my house. weekends were spent making a snow fort connecting mine and the neighbor’s yard. Levi and Ashley were busy all weekend, we had to practically drag them in for dinner and bed.
Now, the kids all grown and most of them have moved away, married with kids of their own. I still have some of the neighbors who welcomed my husband Jerry and I to our new house over 30 years ago. We often get together in the evening, talking about when we retire ,as we already survived being empty nesters. I am buying a motor home and travel like Jerry and I talked and planned to do someday. I would like to take my time and see the Oregon Coast. Time has a way of flying by make the most of your child raising years,make lasting memories that carry on for the next generation of stories,take the time to tell your loved ones how much you love them and are glad they are part of your life.
I call today Super Sunday sports because so many games are being played today. For those who eat and breathe football,fans are cheering on the favorite team this afternoon; Animal Planet, Hallmark Channel and Discovery channel have hosted an alternative to the big game. Puppy Bowl, Kitten Bowl with sideline guests such as hedgehogs, score keeper a parrot, watching and rooting on the MVP team. It is a fun cause for pet adoption for abandoned and abused animals. I love the dog commercials. My favorite was when the dog is waiting for his wife at the beauty shop, she took off her scarf and he just winced.
Over the years, I have adopted two black kittens and a male black Pomerania. I do not understand why a black colored animals are more often euthanized than any other animal. They are the most loyal, playful loveable animals I have owned. My son Levi had a cat named he named Midnight. She would snuggle on top of you and let you hold her like a baby, she was a great comfort to me after I lost my son nine years ago in a tragic car accident. Another cat we owned was named Moonshine because my young son said ‘her eyes shine like the moon.’ I remember after sending Levi off to school, a good friend came over for coffee. I was feeding the cat,talking to my friend. We started to walk down the hallway into my office with the cat walking behind us finishing His story he wans not finished telling us. it was so cute. When moonshine finished his story, he went back to his meal.( did I mention black cats are very talkative?)
One Christmas eve, a good friend of the family brought over a black Pomeranian he found wandering around his work. I fell instantly in love with Pepper. Like with all of my animals, I could not imagine someone would not want such a loving and loyal companion. I had Pepper for ten years until he became ill and had yo be put to sleep. very sad day indeed. I would encourage you to give a black dog,cat a chance. Whatever show you choose to watch today, may the best teams win.
The road up ahead is paved with uncertainty. Yesterday is gone,tomorrow is not promised so we make the most out of everyday. All our hopes and dreams yet unfulfilled, every goal yet to be reached, every sunrise and sunset gives us another chance to realize our full potential. Don’t let go of your dreams,don’t let life get in the way of your goals,don’t let now become tomorrow or believe it is too late.
Life as we all well know,doesn’t always go as we planned. A financial setback, health scare, death, divorce or child moving out can alter our goals. We all dream about one day when the honey and I are all alone, living by the lake, fishing until dusk everyday. We dream about the family and friends visiting us for the day,taking the boat out on the lake,watching the grand kids inner tubing behind the boat, then slowing down and enjoying the beautiful trees and lakeside homes. (sorry, I was day dreaming a minute). I cannot complain about my life; I have suffered a couple personal tragedies, but I really can say I am happy where my life is now. I have a good job,the love and support of family and friends, I still have my mom, and most important, I am learning to enjoy the beauty in each new day.
I lost two dear friends this week. One young man was a client,the other, an old family friend. Neil was the world’s greatest story tellers. He was the life of any party,he and his wife liked to host New years eve Murder Mystery Parties. My parents attended a few,good thing they walked around the block to the party because they couldn’t and shouldn’t have driven home. In between the murder mystery,was a seven course meal complete with wine. Neil took my young teenage son under his wing as a contract painter. He would pay Levi very well plus kept him out of trouble. The day before my sons funeral, Neil came and freshened up the paint on the front of my house. The next morning, Neil and his wife drove me to the Memorial service.One story I love was Neil loved donuts,he would wake his youngest son up at 3 am on Saturday whispering in his sons ear”they are fresh”.Off they would go at dark thirty. eating the first hot, fresh donut of the morning. Cool dad.
Keep what is important, let go of what is not, look for the beauty in each new day, love a lot, forgive more for we do not know if this is the last time we will see our friends or family, hug your kids extra tight,let them know how much you love them, how proud you are of them, how glad you are they are in your life. Help them achieve their dreams.
Last weekend, some dear friends came over to paint inside my home. We laughed because it only took my paint contractor friend five years to have the time. He thanked me for my patience. Now my house looks fresh and brighter for the new year. We have been hammered by snow storms this year, so the light beige paint lightens your mood some. My friends and I were talking about being in a rut lately; We had three weeks of sub-zero temperatures followed by six inches of snow,then more frigid temps,and then more snow. Followed by the January thaw and flooding. I am glad we are only in for a couple more storms and then the gardeners can get outside and plant.
Before my friends came, I started to get rid of old magazines I have held onto since 2000. I cleaned out my entertainment center with old papers, videos, movies to donate and any old receipts. Since I knew my couch would be moved to paint behind, I cleaned underneath. I wondered how many magazines does one own anyway? Then, I moved on to my office, cleaning out and organizing my author file,I then looked through my book format, the book’s first chapter I have written, and my extra stories I saved in case I want to write another book. I then moved to my son Levi’s old bedroom turned dressing room. I cleaning out under his bed. I found a couple of his school annuals, a pair of pants he will never again wear, a sock, a bowel and spoon(what again was the rule of no eating in your room?)I found his computer games,and his drawings. As I found each item, I thanked God I have a small piece of his world. Levi passed away in 2007 in a tragic car accident. He was only 20. I had already cleaned out his closet when I turned his old room into my dressing room. I put my uniforms in his dresser to make room for clothes and coats.
I needed the motivation to jump-start my new year by decluttering and donating to a charity. I realized I do not need as much as I have accumulated and it is nice to finally be more organized. I have a problem with paper trails. I need to shred more often and I will now. Sometimes between work, caring for my aging mom and writing, I don’t have much time left for anything else. It is so nice to come home to a bright, and cheerful home. I own a ranch style house full of Victorian charm. I wish my late husband could see all the changes I have made over the years. I think Jerry would have been proud of how well I have kept up the house.(With a lot of help from my friends.) We didn’t have the fixer upper,our home was move in ready. ( I know, took all the fun out of my story. Sorry).
My next door neighbor has been helping me declutter my mom’s home. We cleaned her bedroom last week. When she was 17, her mom talked her into buying a new bedroom set. She bought a beautiful maple four poster bedroom suit. My dad painted her a desert picture which hangs over her bed. A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine and I cleaned out under the crawl space. We took several loads to the dump. I am glad we are getting around to decluttering her home now instead of down the road if she has an onset of dementia. At least her home will be a comfortable environment for her. I worked private nursing care for a couple elderly clients. I understand how dementia affects the family. I am thankful mom is thinking ahead now. She already gave up her driver’s license a few years ago. I would not want her driving anymore anyway. My town scares me to drive some days; People change three lanes of traffic just to stop at the light instead of waiting. I don’t mind taking her to her appointments. We have a late lunch afterwards and it gets he out of the house. It is hard to watch your mom go from having a full calendar to staying in her gown and robe everyday. But she has made the choice and I have to respect it.
This middle age life is hard for some folks. You are still young enough to work, some have young children at home or may have your grandchildren living with them and are part of the sandwich generation. Life is but an adventure. I am guilty of not inviting friends over more often to share a meal or watch a good movie or even just a night of catching up. I guess I need to host an open house and show off the new updated paint. (some of my friends reading this are saying yeah.) I like it when a good friend gives me 15 minutes before she come over. I have my Victorian table all set when she arrives. We have a yummy desert and pretty cups for tea. My one dear friend owned a B&B in Ireland. I love to hear stories about her experience she had. Sometimes before I go to work,I spend some time with her at her home eating a snack and watching Agatha Christie. It set the mood for me going to work. I always have a good shift at work. I don’t know 2017 is getting off to a good start for me How about you?
I have a best friend I have known since kindergarten.I remember sitting beside my friend squirming in my seat trying to listen to my Sunday school teacher; After class, Karen and I found our parents walking hand in hand. We went all through school together,saying hi in the halls. I really liked her fashion sense. Her hair was always cut to fashion,her clothes were on the best dressed list and she has a winning smile. I think her mom cut everyone’s hair in high school except for mine. She was a best kept secrete. In all honesty, I could not get a hair dresser to touch my hair because it was so long, they did not want me to cut it. (Hard when your hair becomes your identity). I did finally get someone to cut my hair(reluctantly). How hard is short hair anyway? The next day at school, I thought I was going to be launched into outer space I thought it was my hair on my head. I muddled through the last two years of school getting good grades and working.
My friend and I lost track of each other for a few years until we met again in of all places Disneyland in 1990 after my husband had died. It was so nice to run into her again. We exchanged phone numbers keeping in touch within our busy schedules. I had since moved to Idaho, she still resided in california; We were both busy moms raising our boys into fine young men. Over the years,both of our lives have taken a different direction than we expected. We shared in conversation the hardships and difficulties we had in parenting. Those tween years can be brutal especially as a single parent. One by one,our sons became young men before our eyes and was ready to enter the great big world. Karens sons entered the Military after Graduation while Levi already had a good job laying Granite counter tops and installing carpet. All of a sudden,we were both Empty Nesters. It takes some getting used to.
With our sons grown and out of the house, it was time to do everything we wanted while we were still young to do them. I worked full-time in the Hotel Industry while Karen worked in nursing; Karen might have gone on a few more vacations than I had but we were pretty busy just living our daily lives. Levi came over for a few minutes to pick up something from his room(gone were the dreams when he came over for dinner and afterwards chat about what was going on now in his life) Karen’s sons were gone in the Military so she did not see them either. (What happened to that perfect dream we had when we were little girls?)It is a different feeling seeing your son driving around town in his new car. You yell hi son from inside the car. My best friend and I have both suffered personal tragedies the past few years. We keep in touch and pray for each other. Meeting Karen was no accident all those years ago. She was destined to be one of my best friends that I really not only admire but appreciate her generosity as well. I thank God for her everyday.
This has been the craziest winter for years. I do not remember a time when we had a bad snow storm, followed by sub-zero temperatures,then six more inches of snow. Fall and Winter are usually the two Seasons I love best. this year, the snow needs to let up, the sub-zero temps need to be above my age, (yes, I know,that is Spring temps.)and people need to slow down for road conditions. I think we had 195 collisions and four being fatal just last week.
Folks talk about the Big Snow of 196-. Kids jumped off the roof tops but landed two feet into the snow drift. Some families could not get out the front door because the snow was so heavy. Neighborhoods had snowman and snow fort contests followed by a chilli cook offs. Families pulled kids around the neighborhoods on ATV’s. I did not live in the area yet,but I have witnessed my fair share of snowy winters. My family used to head up to one of the many ski resorts and we would go sledding down the mountain.Afterwards,we headed to Denny’s to warm up. My parents had a motor home at the time,so we piled as many friends into the thing as we could. So much laughter,telling stories of sking mishaps,and a fun afternoon had by all.
I grew up in california where we had to drive to the snow. The family would take off on saturday and head to Bishop or Wrightwood. My twin brother and I wished we could live in a State where we could just walk outside the front door and see snow(silly me). The family moved to Idaho in 1981 after my dad had an accident at work. We needed to move to a drier climate. We already had family who moved here the year before and found us a house; My mom still lives in the same house in a safe neighborhood. The guy across the street makes sure her driveway is kept clear of snow. He is really appreciated. A few years ago when we had a bad winter, the weatherman asked everyone who could help,dig your elderly and disabled neighbors out. It sparked a community effort to keep everyone clear and safe. It sometimes takes the snow plows a couple of days to get to the side streets and blocks.
I know in six weeks we will be letting go of Winter and welcoming Spring. Trading our snow shovels and de-icer for garden supplies( I hear you out there) for a moment longer, I want to enjoy not sub-zero temps, but at least 40 degrees. When the sun hits the tree- lined trees and mountains, it is breathtaking. Soon, we will make way longer days, warm sunshine, watering the grass, planting new flowers, updating the landscape. Soon we will be enjoying the Annual Garden Tours, B&B Tours, and lake fun activities. Hold on to your swim trunks and swim suits for now,we still have to get through the rest of this Season before we can start planting again.
This is a New Year resolution gone terribly wrong! Like so many, we have a game plan on what we would like to achieve in the coming year. Funny thing is, if we take a poll say three weeks from now,we will find most have moved on to Reality. I think we bit off more than we can chew,and give up. Getting into shape,stop eating so much junk food on the run, making more time for family are great goals.
I decided a few years ago not to make New Years resolutions. If you don’t make them,you can’t break them after a few days into the brand new year. I think the only things I wanted in the new year was peace, better parenting tips(because Levi was a strong-willed child), less condemnation when I wasn’t living up to others expectations. Over the years, I have had many wonderful friends who really had my son and my best interests in mind. A dear friend gave me some nice jeans and long sleeve t-shirts, plus a new make-up compact. Being a single mother on a budget, I appreciated her out pouring of love.
My life in an empty nest has its blessings and it’s drawbacks as well. Gone are the two a.m. pizza delivery (Levi told them do Not ring door bell, I think he had the delivery guy tap on his window), no more late charges at the video store,gone is the high water bill when your son discovered girls and they want you to smell nice,long distance phone calls(Levi found out the hard way about phone bill coming to mom’s house and she actually reads them), No more son sneaking in the front door or out the window(always a neighbor up at two a.m., you have more cash in your wallet, on the computer until the crack of dawn and then they think mom will let them stay home from school-silly child. Those parenting years,you invest so much blood,sweat and tears into them and hope they can make the best of getting out on their own. I know so many young adults do not want to spread the wings and fly away. Life can be scary outside the comforts of the family home. So many concerns like paying rent,enough hours at work, utilities ,food, clothes. My generation made it,these young adults will make it also. My son and I realized when Levi turned 19, it was time for him to move out. We were Both ready, maybe more me than him,but just the same. He moved in with his Grandma to help her when his grandpa passed away. His grandma kept him honest. Doors locked at ten p.m. sharp. Many times his friends called while Levi was on his way to home begging his grandma not to lock him out. I am proud of the fine young man Levi had become.
Parenting is the greatest blessing God could have ever entrusted parents with. The first cry after delivery,(I made this tiny person), watching the first: first steps,first words,first foods,first tantrum, first time riding a bike,first time training wheels come off,first hospital visit, first swing set and inviting a friend over to help break it in. Life goes by so fast until you realize, your child is now in Grade School; you wonder how did that happen? I was just changing his or her diapers and now we are hosting the Big ten years old Birthday Party. From Royal Rangers, Cub scouts, Boys and Girls Scouts, soccer,baseball, dance recitals, music performances we as parents leave a lasting memory in our children. They can remember mom and dad watching them play ball, or listening for my turn for a piano performance.
My life in middle age is full of life,blessings,a good jog I love,caring for my aging mom,snow(until one gets stuck at work in the driveway and has to get a ride) but hey, this is part of Winter right? We are getting one storm after another now. I can deal with a few more storms and then Spring will arrive. I some help this year to become even a better reformed black thumb gardener. At least I have trees that are fifteen feet tall now, I can wait to start planting, pruning, dead heading,and fertilizing my yard. I live in one season at a time; Right now, I am shoveling snow and really appreciate my neighbors who have helped keep my driveway cleared for me. Everyone has their own dreams about what middle age will be:traveling maybe, more free time to go fishing, buying a motor home for weekend getaways, time spent with grandkids, down sizing the home because we don’t need as much room now or buying a bigger house to accommodate your ever-growing family. I am happy where my life has taken me. I have had some personal tragedies along the way,but I would not trade my life for anything. I am only fifty-five, so I am not ready for the Senior center just yet,but I do enjoy nature hikes in the beautiful mountains,watching the deer,elk, quail,and wild turkeys that roam around the neighborhood. I spend time with my aging mom making dinner,showers, getting the mail(I feel like cinderella sometimes). I try to see the beauty in each new day.