By Larry Simoneaux
It’s finally dawned on me.
Time passes. Kids grow up. They begin their own lives. Life goes on.
The “dawning” was due to the fact that the house is quiet now — still, really — and my wife and I are back to where we began. Sooner or later, all parents face this. The two of us together — albeit with more wrinkles and a raft of memories.
The trouble is, memories neither drink all of the milk in the refrigerator nor do they make all of the noise and commotion that makes a house a home.
There are good parts.
Our youngest son is still local. He liked to get his hands dirty and take things apart. If such could be done with large amounts of energy being inserted into the mix, all the better.
He’s now working in a lab where all he does is break things. He’s found heaven, but he never calls us often enough — which is just what our parents thought when we moved away from them.
Our daughter is a reflection of my wife — thank the Lord. She’s been drawing since she could hold a crayon. With her, however, it was never a passing fancy. She stuck with it, got pretty good at it and, now, she’s down in Texas — along with our granddaughter — getting on with the rest of her life.
I’ll confess, though, that her leaving home is probably tugging at me a bit harder than it should. Ask any father and he’ll probably say the same thing. We want our sons to go out and conquer the world. With daughters, however, it’s a tad different.
We’ll dare any male in the world to try and take them. And, when a young man does take an interest, we begin thinking of ways to bind, gag, and box said young man and, then, ship them off to some village in Siberia. These are a father’s prerogatives. It’s somewhere in our genetic code. Probably next to our need to run through every channel on the remote control while our wives fume.
Our oldest is in New York and making his way there with his wife. They’re doing fine. Which, of course, means we don’t hear from or see them often enough either.
And so, this past weekend, I found myself in the living room looking at old photographs with memories attached. The walks to school. Helping with homework. Sleepovers. Picking strawberries. Putting up the Christmas tree. Easter egg hunts. Halloween costumes.
It got more involved as they grew up.
Standing on the sidelines at their games trying to ignore the wind and rain. Teaching them to drive. Swallowing hard at the inevitable dents and dings in the cars. Lying awake at night, silently hoping they’d get home on time while, at the same time, rehearsing the “speech” if they didn’t. Praying that the ringing phone was a call to tell you they’d be late because of a flat or an overheated engine. Releasing a sigh of relief when they got home early.
Remembering when they went away to college and wondering if they’d have the same fears we did. Knowing that, just like us, they wouldn’t admit it even if they did. Knowing also that, eventually, they’d finish and begin their own lives and hoping that we’d done enoughg to prepare them.
Worrying, later, when each of them (at different times) moved back in, but secretly enjoying having them back — if only for the time necessary for them to get back on their feet. Which they did.
But now, the house is quiet. Still, actually.
And, now, I see that we’re beginning the next stage of our lives. The one where we start asking them about visits home, about whether they need us to send them anything, mentioning that we haven’t heard from them recently, and tiptoeing around the subject of more grandkids.
I wonder how we’ll do?
My older brother — who’s been through all this — long ago told us we’d get through it. In fact, he said that, very quickly, the idea of picking up and moving to be near them will seem perfectly normal.
He missed the timing on that last, though.
That thought had already crossed our minds. Quite a while ago, actually.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org