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My Nest Is Empty, But Feathered

empty nest is feathered and full“When you guys are grown, I’m getting an apartment in the city, overlooking the lake. I’ll have white carpet and a Dalmatian to keep me company. I’ll come to your house for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

That was my we-gotta-get-this-house-clean-company-is-coming frustration fantasy, when all four of my kids were teens. That was when the five of us moved from a farmhouse in small town USA, and into a three-bedroom townhouse in the Chicago suburbs. That was when I could only see us getting smaller, as my nest emptied. Blissful calm would be mine.

The Dalmatian and white carpet may have been less a fantasy than the family getting smaller.

First came Loved-One, a never-married, younger man, willing to take on two wrestlers, a junior high Drama Diva (CeCi), CoCo my special needs daughter, just entering puberty, and a Siamese cat. Need I say more? It’s amazing what love can do.

In six years and three graduations, we melted down to three: Loved-One, CoCo and me. And the Siamese. Oh, and an abandoned Norwegian elkhound we adopted. The townhouse felt just right, not too small, not too large. Ahhh… bliss is on the way.

Wrestler #1 graduated from college and got married. Holidays grew by one lanky blond.

Wrestler #2 graduated from grad school and moved back home waiting for fall wedding and a firm offer on a job. He brought along his dog, which can only be described as a cross between a Great Dane and a horse.

CeCi moved back, with her dog-hating cat. She also brought along my unborn grandchild and all the emotions of an unplanned pregnancy heaped on top of worry, guilt and excitement.

The dog scared the cat that poked a bare claw into our water-bed. New dog marked his territory in old dog’s living room.

That was the summer of our discontent. The summer Loved-One said, “Maybe I should go live in a hotel for a while.”

He weathered a wrecked car, flea infested carpet, stolen socks (“What do you think she does with them all?”) unemployment (mine), teenage angst (everyone’s) and CoCo’s Friday the 13th battle with a Subaru (10 days in intensive care!). It was the Groom’s pre-wedding stress and the unwed mother’s blues, coupled with two more animals that did him in. He needed space.  How could I blame him? I wept. Not just tears, sobs of anguish.

“I never knew you cared so much.”

“How could you not know?”

Loved-One battened down the hatches and weathered it out once more. I love that man.

Wrestler #2 had a beautiful wedding. Grandchild No 1 was a beautiful ginger-haired baby. Holidays became bigger, almost double. Our summer of discontent dissolved into the background of autumn’s color. I delighted.

Love grows. Wrestler #1 gave us our first grand-daughter, Wrestler #2 gave us another grandson. CeCi’s sense of responsibility blossomed with motherhood. She managed three part-time jobs; all allowing her to take her ginger-haired grandson along with her. She married a man who brought us our bonus grand-daughter. We needed more space.

Love keeps growing. More grandchildren squeezed my heartstrings. CoCo met and married a Special Olympiad who looked a lot like Mr. Incredible. The LoveBirds made our nest their nest.

Loved-One and I built a smallish house on a large lot. We have plenty of gathering space and a spare bedroom. The lower level felt like an apartment for the LoveBirds. We have a Harry Potter closet under the stairs just for toys for the grandkids. There’s enough room for all twelve grandchildren, and their parents, and my mom when she comes to visit. G-Dad (aka Loved-One) likes nothing better than to hunt bugs and worms with the grandkids and feed them to the frogs in our water garden.

Holidays are wonderful, but so are weekends, and evenings and early morning wake-ups, lifting the quilt and snuggling a small child under my chin, chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and cherry tomatoes, eaten like candy, fresh from the garden.

Will I ever have that apartment with the white carpet and the Dalmatian to keep me company? God, I hope not. A feathered nest is bliss.

Adela Crandell Durkee

I come from a family of storytellers. Being a little more introverted, I put pen to paper. First published at the age of seven, I have a few small pieces published and yearn for more. I live in Illinois with my husband George. Within driving distance are my four children and bonus sons and daughters through marriages. I have my fourteen grandchildren and two cats to keep me hopping after a full days work as a freelance writer for two local newspapers and whoever else needs me. Add my vegetable and water garden in the backyard, and you could say, "I have it all!" Also blogging at Once A Little Girl and The Black Tortoise . Instagram: geodeli

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Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Wednesday 17th of August 2016

I love this Adela. Your sense of acceptance of your children and whatever life brings you, shines through. Thanks for the story, that's not a story to you at all.

Shari Eberts

Friday 3rd of June 2016

Sounds wonderful! I think this is what we all hope for in reality rather than the white carpet. Enjoy your growing family!


Saturday 4th of June 2016

Sorry, Shari, my early-morning-eyes blended letters of your name together in my previous comment.


Saturday 4th of June 2016

Yes, Shan. Fantasy come to life is never as good as my own reality. When things got fought at work, I had a fantasy of raising sheep and knitting sweaters sold in high end boutiques. Yeah, that would be less of a hassle!

Beth Havey

Friday 3rd of June 2016

This is a lovely post. And your good fortune to be so close to all of your children. Blessings on you for your open heart. And who would ever need white carpet.


Saturday 4th of June 2016

I know, Beth. White carpet? I'd mess it up myself, I'm sure. The Wall Street once did an article about the value of family. I keep going back to their assessment that children are a long term investment that pays great dividends.

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