Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: The Sweet Life
By Patricia Protzman
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Wrapping my sleepy, pajama-clad body in a patchwork quilt, I left my snoring husband and headed downstairs following the heavenly aroma coming from the kitchen. After pouring a steamy cup of java, I took one sip and then another. Mmm, there was nothing like a cup of hot, black coffee first thing in the morning; especially when you could enjoy it without hurrying kids out the door for school or scurrying off to work.
Opening the back door, the chilly October air mingled with wood smoke, jump-started me awakening all my senses. The old dew-covered rocking chair on the porch looked inviting. I grabbed a cleaning cloth hanging on the banister, wiped off the dew, and sat down snuggling up with the quilt and hot coffee.
A huge, bright, orange ball peeked above the horizon accompanied by a kaleidoscope of colors—violets, reds, blues, yellow—adorning the eastern sky. Sunrises, and sunsets, reminded me of God’s sovereign power and His promises never to leave me. My attention moved to a huge old Maple tree; crisp, fallen leaves were whirling and dancing around the yard in celebration of the new day. At the far end of the porch, in a corner of the ceiling, resided a nest of swallows. One baby bird was perched on the edge of the nest, while the other two watched from inside their warm home as their parents coached their sibling to fly away. Nostalgic memories triggered, transporting me back thirty years.
Married at age nineteen, my husband and I decided to start our family right away. Ten months later at the age of twenty, I delivered our first-born son. Three years later our second son was born, followed in three years by the birth of our daughter. My busy life was happy and revolved around our three children; formulas, bottles, cloth diapers, staying up all night with fretful babies and sick children, endless cooking and cleaning, trips to the doctor, dealing with obnoxious teenagers, chauffeuring to school activities, worries about being out past curfews and learning to drive. In addition, when my daughter was seven and one half months old, I went to nursing school, which brought its own challenges such as locating reliable baby sitters and finding time to study.
Each child’s personality was unique. Gary our oldest, was a serious and independent young man, David, the middle child, outgoing and competitive, and Amy, our youngest, a sensitive and practical young woman. Each one placed their faith in Jesus Christ as young children; we were blessed and thankful to God for each precious life. Our little birds had grown up and left the nest, leaving my husband and me retired from our careers and alone. A twinge of sadness swept over me, but only for a moment. This was my chance to enjoy my newfound freedom.
Many activities and projects came to mind; ten or eleven shoeboxes filled with hundreds of photos needed arranging in photo albums. Writing inspirational stories and poems, a new interest I wanted to pursue. Antique shopping, over twenty stores in town and surrounding areas awaited me. Over the years, my husband and I could only dream of taking a cruise and going on mission trips with our church, the time and money was available now to follow-up on our dreams.
Home life had changed; laundry decreased from two or three loads everyday to two or three loads a week. I slept in for as long as I wanted to without someone waking me up to iron clothes or asking me where a certain pair of jeans was located. Hubby and I ate at our favorite restaurants, listened to the oldies music, and stayed out as late as we desired without having to answer to anyone.
There are times, when I miss having my children home with me, but they live near by. I have seen each of them at least once a week and we have kept in touch by phone and email. My wish is for grandchildren in the near future. New adventures lay ahead for all of us.
Turning my attention back to the swallows I saw the last little bird fly away. The nest is empty. Life will never be quite the same but parents and children are on their own and discovering how sweet life can be.
King Solomon said it best, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
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