When Frank and I married in 1976, I had two teenage sons from a previous marriage. Several months after our wedding we decided to have a baby together, and that explains our Jennifer, 14 years younger than her brother Jeff, 16 years younger than her brother Craig. She is Frank's only child, although he always claims a proud stake in the boys as well, since he saw us all through their teen years and supported me emotionally during the letting-go-of-them stage. Which was tough. On me. Not them. As is usually the case, they could not WAIT to be out and on their own.
Now all our children are adults, two of them with children of their own, and one of their daughters a mother herself. It has been an incredible journey for this mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/great grandmother/great grandfather. An adventure in learning lessons from the younger generations as they grew up and we grew old-er -- some of the lessons happy ones, others not so much; but all worth the impact they've had on our lives.
It literally took me years to adjust to the empty nest once Jennifer tested her wings and flew off into the rising sun that shed both light and shadows on the path the chose for herself. My eyes still tear up when I recall waking up the first morning that she was... gone. Frank joyously danced about the house naked, reveling in his new found freedom. I felt as though I was coming out of anesthesia only to find that an important part of me had been surgically removed. I had known in advance that it was coming, but still it hurt. For a long time.
Her father and I continued to make our lives all about her. It was like breathing -- something we simple could not not do. Zen tells us that all paths lead to the top of the mountain, which may be true, but as her path took her further and further from us, the only thing that has kept us climbing has been our little grandchildren. Wouldn't you know it? We have made them the center of our universe.
Since they do not live under our roof, however, as had their mother, there are times when we have empty hours to fill. We run our own business, with Frank being the social networking one while I lean more toward cocooning, we maintain our own home, and we have many activities that let us enjoy each other's company (ranging from good TV, good books, good movies, good music, good coffee on our deck listening mornings to the countless birds that live in our trees, and good wine as we later sit on that same deck watching the sun set). We also talk a lot -- mostly about life.
Which has led us to a new facet that we are now exploring -- called friends. We're somewhat picky, opting for quality over quantity, but it's amazing how the universe has provided recently by arranging that our path cross other paths being travelled by folks (outside of family) who are fun and interesting and inclined to enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs. A new chapter in our book is being written, to mix metaphors.
We can't always hold our babies and rock them and sing to them and tell them stories (mostly about horsies), but by golly we can sure brag about them and show off their pictures! As can our friends about their offspring... while we wonder together where all the years have gone, and where future years will lead us. Life continues to be an adventure, even though our footsteps aren't a steady as they used to be.