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Posts Tagged ‘empty nest’

A lot of us have been reading blogs about back to school for the past month now.  It’s that time of year.  I haven’t done one this year but I have written my share of them in previous years.  I might be doing another one in the next couple of weeks as my grandson will be starting kindergarten on the 14th of September.  Then again, I might not.  However, when I was reading blogs yesterday, I came across one that reminded me of one post I haven’t written.  In his Goodbyes post, blogger Bill Cunningham, writes about taking his oldest son to college and saying goodbye.  You might enjoy reading it.

My oldest and only son (the other two are daughters) is Tony and I have written about him previously but I don’t recall writing about the weekend I drove him 400 miles to leave him at college for the first time.  It was in September of 2000. We lived in Glendale, California (yup, basically Los Angeles).  He was going to UC Santa Cruz which was a little under 400 miles from us.  I had a Nissan Pathfinder at the time.  It was loaded to the gills and then some.  The question was do we take the girls or not?  My oldest daughter was 16 at the time and didn’t want to go.  So she stayed home cleaning out her brother’s room and making it her own (she didn’t waste any time!).  Her father was a phone call away so that worked out. But Susie was 10 years old and she was super attached to her big brother.  She was already getting depressed because he was leaving home.  So I took her with me so she would have a chance to spend some time with him in the car and see where he would be living and say her goodbyes.  I took her out of school on the Friday before he had to move in because we would have to drive up that day to make it to move in early the next day so we drove on Friday, spent the night in a motel in town then took him to campus early the next morning.

Move in was super organized.  There was a lot of help.  Basically, we pulled up and before we knew it, the car was unloaded and his things were being carried to his dorm.  When the car was empty, I was directed to a parking lot for parents that were staying for the welcome activities so we didn’t say our goodbyes because we would be meeting him in a while and going to some of the activities with him before leaving campus.  When we saw him after a couple of hours, he took us to his dorm so we could see his room.  It was good for Susie (and me) to see where he would be living (he had scored a single room in a 3 room unit with 4 other male students.  It was tiny but he didn’t have to share with anyone and he had a sliding patio door to his room so if he didn’t want to go through the living room and hall way, he didn’t have to.  We met a couple of the roommates.  We got a short list of things he still needed and Susie and I went shopping and brought back what he needed.  Then we walked to the bookstore to get his textbooks.  He didn’t have a credit card so I would need to get those for him.  And at the check out counter, I spotted stamps.  Postage stamps.  I grabbed a booklet of stamps and added them to our pile.  I wanted him to have the stamps so if he wanted to write or send a post card to anyone, not just us, he would have the stamps.  He had left a girlfriend back home and I figured he might be writing to her often, if not to us.

Then it was time to say goodbye.  Sigh.  Susie and I were staying in town overnight again and leaving for home on Sunday morning after a short detour to Carmel which I had promised Susie.  One of the reasons was that I wanted Tony to have a chance to see if he needed anything else before Mom left town.  The campus is way up on a hill, quite a ways from any shopping so I wanted to make sure he was not lacking anything he might need.  Well, we checked in with him by phone before leaving town and he didn’t need anything so we had no reason/excuse to go back up to campus for another goodbye.  But then Susie wanted to say goodbye on the phone and before I knew it, we were driving back to campus to see him and for another goodbye.  I kind of needed that too so I was glad to have the excuse of taking Susie to say goodbye.  That was the tough one.  That goodbye was the one that counted…the one that made us all realize that it was real and he wasn’t going home with us and we wouldn’t see him for awhile…probably until Thanksgiving.  There were lots of long hugs and many unspilled tears which finally spilled as we drove out of town.

The drive home was horrible as I got lost up in the mountains between Carmel and King City.  What I thought was an alternate route (according to the map) was actually a very narrow road that was probably used by cattle ranchers up there.  Instead of taking  30 minutes to get from the Pacific Coast Highway to US-101, it took us 3 HOURS!  And by the time we got to the main freeway, Susie was really sick and my nose was running like a faucet which is not good when you still have a 5 hour drive ahead of you.  But it did one thing…it took our minds off of leaving Tony behind.  At least for the drive home.

We all survived.  It turned out that his sisters missed him so much that we found ourselves making the 6 hour drive about once a month.  Sometimes we would take his best friend or his girl friend with us to visit.  And what saved us all was…technology!  In those days everyone used AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) kind of like texting on a computer!  So we made a deal, Tony would stay signed in to AOL and I would, too.  That way, I could see his on and off times and know he was okay without having to call him to check.  Sometimes he would leave Away Messages designed to let me know he was okay but would be away (something like: Late class; back by 11).  That was a lifesaver (or a phone call saver).  I knew he was okay but I didn’t have to be intrusive and he didn’t have to keep checking in.  That’s how we handled it. And of course, if he did need to talk to me, I was right there at the other end of the computer connection (yeah, no wireless, we were on dial up at the time).

That’s how we survived.  To anyone out there facing a moving away offspring…you’ll get through it.  You’ll find a way to keep in touch and know when you are needed.  You will.  Trust me.

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Reflections

During this past decade, all three of my kids became adults.  They are currently 27, 24, and 19.  That has been an interesting unfolding of events.  During the decade I have seen each of them grow into wonderful adults; even when they’re not at their best they can be pretty good!

In the same time I have gone from a very active and busy mom to one that is a lot less busy and less active.  That’s good.  It’s also kind of lonely and sad at times but it has a lot of good aspects, too.

In the next decade, my first grandchild will be born and I imagine there will be more besides him.  Perhaps this will be the decade of new children.  I will be as involved in their lives as possible.  I look forward to that.

I’m sure then next decade will bring many more things my way, both wanted and unwanted.  How I react and adjust will be the story I hope to be writing about at the end of the coming decade.

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