• author
    • Jesse Loren

    • January 8, 2013 in Columnists

    Living the post-nuclear life

    Most of my friends live in households without children.  Some have never had children, the rest have already raised their children and have empty nests.  The term “empty nest” sounds dreadful, but it’s really a bittersweet gift for many of my friends. I am not going to be an empty nester, it just isn’t in the cards.

    I’m not sure what non-professional houses look like; all of my friends are college educated with degrees, and married to others with degrees. In a sense, they represent a niche and are not representative of the nation.  With that said, they each worked hard to get their kids into college. As I have.  They value education. As I have.  When their kids launched into adulthood, they felt pride and sadness, but mainly pride.   This is “normal” for this middle class life. As I write, my youngest is in her last semester of high school and has early college offers from very good schools. All the work is paying off.  Things are supposed to go this way.

    When mom had to move in, it wasn’t that she was homeless, because she does own a home at the beach.  It was the terrible mistakes with money, getting lost, not taking medicine as prescribed, not eating right, and depression.  It was obvious she needed help.  My brother who lives closest and I banded together our resources, and moved mom.   We renovated part of my house to accommodate her and her three dogs.

    At this time, my house — that was almost post-nuclear — is filled with barking dogs, fighting cats and a loud, elderly woman who has complete full-volume conversations with her dogs at all hours of the day and night.  She seems to be losing her frontal lobe ability to filter out the appropriate comment or the appropriate volume.  Her inner monologue is broadcast at the dinner table.

    “Joe is licking his penis on my foot!” She blared while we were passing the mashed potatoes.”He’s laying on my foot licking his penis and I can feel it!”

    “Memom, can you please not talk about Joe’s penis at the table,”  my teenager pleads.

    “Well, he’s really doing it.”

    “Ok, but can’t you just move your foot, or kick him or something?”

    “No, I am not going to kick him.”

    Dinner is tainted with the image of the white dog licking his little eraser colored penis on mom’s old lady foot.

    On the one hand, it’s probably a good lesson in tolerance for my daughter to have to broaden her academically focused world  and make room for grandma.

    On the other hand, as I was placed on medical leave due to lupus, I planned my empty nest to have bees.  A hive of bees is a sister colony of quiet activity. I thought moving into retirement was going to be quiet and honey-filled. The water of life as a way of moving into new terrain. We are post nuclear, but we are something else too with mom here.  Something that makes the circle larger and learning more about love.


    • You are handling this much better than I ever could Jesse. I admire you. I could never live in a house with my Mom. No house is big enough for two families. She couldn't do it either. But one has to do what one has to do.

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