Sabbath Interrupted

For the few folks who may still trawl around these parts on occasion, we interrupt this self-imposed summer sabbath to bring you what is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively unimportant message.

Number One Son is back from his adventures in Boston, so all three are home. The house is a little crowded, noisy and smelly, like a men’s locker room. We even have guys walking around in nothing but boxers, sometimes just towels wrapped around their waists, all boisterous and cocky, like they’ve just won the Super Bowl. It’s very authentic.

At times it becomes an epic, Darwinian struggle for square footage, the kind of internecine war you might see depicted on the Discovery Channel. Number Two Son complained the other night–in jest–about “how small our house is.” We quickly pointed out to him that in about four weeks, when the three of them fly the nest,  it will suddenly become much larger. He thought about that for a second, and although he chuckled and smiled, I thought I saw deep in his eyes just a glint of sadness.

All three are busy with useful pursuits and Planning Their Futures. Number One is applying to medical school for next year and preparing to move back to T-town to once again work as a personal caretaker for a handicapped student, this time as an alum instead of an undergraduate. He received his bachelor of science degree in the mail just the other day, but he and two of his friends plan to return to campus for a little closure, to “walk the line” in early August at summer graduation. I think his parents need a little closure too, so we’ll be there, camera at the ready, Denny Chimes a’ringin’.

Number Two is life-guarding and managing a local pool this summer. He is a favorite among the preteen crew who set upon him the moment he arrives and swing on his arms and legs as if they were ropes tethered to a sturdy oak. He is studying psychology and business and is at a crossroads where he could easily major or minor in either. He will return to West Florida in the fall, but plans to pause and take a semester off in the spring to sort things out and chart a course for the future. In the spring he will move to T-town and take over the caretaker job for his older brother who plans to goes off to Guatemala for language school and some extended medical missions.

Number Three is still recovering from the horrible gastroenteritis that he picked up in the wake of the tornado. He’s made progress, and the setback hasn’t stopped his gym workouts which are to him his escape and daily liturgy, but he’s still not 100%. Sometimes bad times get redeemed, though.  During his hospital stay, he thought he caught a glimpse of his future–as a nurse. He will enter UAB this fall with an eye toward entering their world-class nursing program after some preparatory work. This from the guy who once said that he would never consider a career in health care.

The future–oh my, what a thought! So bright and shiny, yet so hidden and scary! I think back to that time in my early 20s when I stood on the cusp of adulthood and tried to peer around the next bend of the road, and I shudder. I would not want to walk that path again.

But, I will walk it again–with the three of them.

Sometimes, Eyegal and lie silently in bed and listen as they laugh and talk, staying up till the wee hours of the morning, a band of brothers making midnight music. Sometimes their friends stop by and join in. They’re good kids who try not to wake us, but their spontaneous joy often spills over and reverberates throughout the house.

We try not to resent the interrupted rest, the resonate notes of laughter ricocheting off the walls, the hardwood boards that creak and scratch like violin strings.  We listen to their midsummer jamming, knowing full well that soon there will be plenty of space, and silence enough to go around.

  1. Erica

    Although my sons are still quite young (6 and 8), sometimes I think of the time when they are no longer in our house and can’t help but feel sad well in advance.  I’m in no hurry…

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Agreed. What’s the rush?

    I think those of us on the verge of Empty Nest alternate between feelings of “Yesss!” followed by guilt for thinking such thoughts, finished off with a nice round of wistful melancholy.

  3. Mike the Eyeguy

    It just occurred to me that there are some sounds we won’t miss: burps, farts and powerful streams of pee. (Attaboy, Mike. That’s more like it.)

  4. laurie

    Isn’t this an odd time of life?  My oldest is a couple of years older than yours, my youngest a couple of years younger.  So at least I get the transitions spread out a bit.  (Eldest also just got engaged.  So eventually…  Grandkids!  Starting all over again, except you get to give ’em back for the hard parts!) 

  5. Charlie

    As your experienced empty nester friend, I can tell you that despite the dread, it’s not too bad.  It’s also amazing how your forget their bad habits until they come back for a visit and reaquaint you with them.

  6. CarolinaGirl

    The sounds of happy life.  :0)

  7. Mike the Eyeguy

    Laurie–Uh, you are talking about the grandkids that will come along later rather than sooner, right?

    Charlie–I will soldier on, following your fine example.

    CG–More like a “Barbaric Yawp.”

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