Friday, May 30, 2008


In spite of what I projected in my last post, it turned out that I took almost no photos last weekend. While Dave was taking dozens of photos, I was programming my mother's birthday gift: an electronic photo frame. Before leaving home, I had scanned some old family photos into my computer and prepared them for uploading onto her memory card. I also included an assortment of photos of Dave, the boys and me that have been taken over the years. When we got to my mother's house, I added photos provided by my sister and brother. It took awhile, but the effort was well rewarded. Mom was thrilled when I set up the frame and scrolled through the photos, and the family enjoyed talking about various memories the images brought to mind.

How old were some of the photos? Well, one dated back to when Mom was 3 years old! Since she will turn 80 next Thursday, you can do the math. We also had some photos of my mom and dad as teenagers (including Mom's high school graduation picture). More recent photos included Mom and Paul's wedding (they've been married nearly 23 years - Ha! I've been married longer than they have!) and photos of the great-grandchildren, including Campbell, who will turn 1 in two weeks.

Last weekend, we celebrated a long life live well. This weekend, Dave and I are thinking about young lives heading into the future. Joshua has now finished high school. Last night we attended his final high school band concert. Today was his last day of classes and, as I write, he and several friends are attending the Senior Prom. Tomorrow, he flies to Texas for his summer adventure. That will be followed immediately by his collegiate educational adventure. He will not return to Virginia until Christmas break, in about six months. Jonathan's future is not quite so well demarcated yet, but it's becoming increasingly clear that, before long, his life will revolve much less around parents and brother, and much more around starting a family of his own. Last week, my brother asked him if his universe is centered on Maggie. Jonathan grinned sheepishly and said, "Pretty much." Dennis smiled and answered, "Yeah, I remember those days."

So, for the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about transitions and the circle of life. My mother had a weird "ah ha" moment last weekend. Samantha (age 8) asked Mom where Grandpa was. Mom answered that he was sitting in his chair by the TV. Samantha retorted, "No, not that grandpa - my grandpa." She meant, of course, my brother, or, from my mother's perspective, her son. She was momentarily taken aback thinking of her son as somebody's grandfather. Her response: we have too many grandfathers in this family.

I had an "ah ha" moment of my own during a recent conversation with a friend whose youngest daughter (a good friend of Joshua's) will be going to college in South Carolina this fall. We both confessed to having mixed feelings about the whole empty nest thing, and I eventually said, "You realize, of course, that we did the same thing to our parents. We were the ones who broke away then. Now it's our turn to experience the letting go thing." That perspective is helping me deal with the fact that Dave and I, as well as the boys, are transitioning into a new life phase. We don't really know what the next phase will be like, but the only thing we can do is step forward, boldly, and continue living life to its fullest.


Barbara said...

I'm not anywhere close to having an empty nest yet, and I'm not in too much of a hurry for the boys to grow up. However, we are in a position where we are really starting to prepare for our children to enter the adult world and become much more independant. It's a little unnerving.

Evie said...

Yeah, it's a bittersweet time for us right now. Obviously, we want to raise our kids to be independent and are pleased with how they've grown. Unfortunately, the desire to raise responsible adults sometimes conflicts with the instincts to protect our young and keep them close by. We're figuring out how to tone down the protective instinct to an appropriate level.

Barbara said...

I hear you. We have a real tendancy (which is only natural considering the circumstances) to be protective of Matt. I've really tried to back off a little and try not to jump in so much to help him out. It's a fine line.

Catharine said...

There are a lot of those trnsition times in our lives. Yesterday (Saturday) during the family reunion I realized that Aunt Eva will be a great-grandmother in the fall. When Joanne becomes a grandmother we become great-aunts. Funny how you don't feel that "great" sometimes.

Evie said...

Barb - For the kids, they're doing what comes naturally, moving forward into something new and exciting. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad are left in a house that seems strangely quiet and empty. We feel the absence of their presence and activity, whereas the kids feel the presence of new people and opportunities. They probably feel our absence too, but not to the same degree that we feel theirs.

We know that, since we no longer have to build around their schedules on a daily basis, we'll be able to create new opportunities for ourselves. We just haven't figured out what those are going to be yet.

Cathy - I've been a great-aunt for 8 years (Samantha, mentioned in the post, is my nephew's daughter). It's really weird thinking of my brother and sister as grandparents.