Memoir Madness…The Empty Nest
Today I’m welcoming Ferris, a new voice to our ever-expanding indie community. Ferris is the author of Dogs and Love: Stories of Fidelity. Ferris’ memoir vignette touches me as I am about to face my own empty nest. Welcome again Ferris and let’s show our new friend some indie love.
It’s been over a year since my last little chick flew the nest. All three of my boys have fluttered back for short little stints, landing for a random weekend during a holiday, or part of a summer. Then they’re gone again, taking a chest of drawers or an ancient twin mattress or the coveted mini fridge.
It’s what we want, right? Just like the mother bird pushing her fledglings out of the nest, we want them to learn to fly. That is the whole reason we taught them to use a can opener and put a paper towel over the Spaghettios when they cook them in the microwave. The whole point is for them to live on their own. To build their own nests, and flourish. Somewhat.
As a recent empty nester, I have discovered something very unflattering about myself. I want the best of both worlds where my adult sons are concerned. I want my boys to be financially independent, yet apparently I want them to be emotionally crippled. I want them, as full grown men, to sit anxiously by the phone in case I call and invite them to dinner at the last minute. Or on a picnic to the lake on a crisp autumn day. Isn’t that what every mother wants deep down? Or that just the psychotic ones, of which I apparently am?
Luckily I have dogs I can attempt to screw up now that my sons have caller ID. The dogs actually embrace any of my attempts to hobble them emotionally. They don’t mind being coddled whenever the whim strikes, or strapped to my side by a leash as I parade them around the neighborhood. Unlike my sons, who have moved on.
Recently dissed by all three of my sons over a lovely invitation to putter around in a boat at the lake (not actually skiing, mind you), my husband and I loaded up our two dogs who were actually ecstatic at the opportunity to get in the back of a hot car and ride up and down the hairpin curves to the lake.
Albeit uneasy over the long drive, the dogs ultimately couldn’t believe their luck over scoring a day trip, even after we devoured our sandwiches right in front of them. I didn’t want anyone getting carsick on the way home.
We rode slowly around the lake in a ski boat (think On Golden Pond with more profanity) as the dogs perched in the bow and sniffed the air. The little dog leapt up on the captain’s chair with my husband, and the big dog lay across my lap as the sun dropped low in the October sky.
I caught my husband’s eye and pointed at the dogs, each acclimated to their new surroundings on the water. We smiled at each other, smug with our bounty.
I think my husband and I both experienced a bit of a déjà vu as we watched a blue heron slowly flap its wings and glide across the cove. Wasn’t it just the other day that our family weekend together at the lake was the highpoint of our boys’ summer?
As I watch the bird, I can almost feel my middle son’s hand on my chin, fragrant and sticky with syrup from the morning’s pancakes, as he turns my face toward the water. Toward the heron.
“Wook, Mommy,” he says, not yet pronouncing all of his letters.
My husband and I watch the heron move slowly over the water, almost suspended in the air as the bird beats his wings rhythmically. His little bird feet stretch out behind him over the water, so clear we can see every single toe.
And just like that, he is gone.
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