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Warmest regards: When we miss ‘the kids’

One of the hardest things about aging is that it is often done without having the comfort and closeness of family.

It’s been my happy experience that family can make a routine day into a fun event and can even make the rough times easier.

When family is far away life does indeed change.

When my husband and I lived a few hours away from his elderly parents we made it a priority to visit every weekend.

Yet, every time we were leaving my father-in-law would cry. “When will I ever see you again?” he would say.

Even though he knew we would be back in a week, he cried to see us go.

When my husband and I traveled every weekend to see our parents, I made it a point to cook some meals during the week so I could bring it to my in-laws.

To tell the truth it was hectic doing that weekend trip and cooking so many meals to take along. But I was always acutely aware that I would not have our parents forever. I wanted to be with them and do for them while I still could.

Now that I am older, I can better understand how it feels when family leaves and your house is empty again.

When my husband’s son Mark and his girlfriend came for four days instead of our quiet house we had a whirlwind of fun, laughter and conversation. They also climbed ladders and did some of the chores we can no longer do so easily.

When they were leaving I missed them before they were even drove away.

Having younger folks in the house definitely makes things livelier.

My friend Jeanne has been raising her grandson since he was 12. She loves every minute of having him.

Her joy magnified when her grandson’s friends decided to make her house home base.

The friends knew they were always welcome, even if her grandson wasn’t home. Often, before Randy was home from school, his friends were already there.

There were often four to 10 youngsters at her house. During the hurricane she had seven high school kids staying there, sleeping wherever they found space.

I noticed having the teenagers around was changing Jeanne. I never saw her so joyful.

She was also the perfect tonic for the kids. When one of the boys came back from vacation the only souvenir he bought was for Jeanne.

“I like how you just don’t put up with us. You honestly seem to like having us around,” he told her.

Everything was wonderful until her grandson and his friends left for college. Jeanne is having a hard time adjusting to a quiet house without the happy-going boys.

“I miss my boys so much,” she sighed.

It’s tough on many parents when their kids leave home and suddenly the house is as quiet as a tomb.

When my girls were ready to leave for college I kept telling them how much they we going to miss the comforts of home.

I made jokes telling them without me being there to change and refill the toilet paper holder they would soon be buried in empty rolls.

Well, they weren’t the ones who went through withdrawal pains. I was. Life was always much more fun with two active teenagers.

One sweet memory is how Andrea and I wildly danced throughout the house to the rocking sounds of Depeche Mode’s Can’t get Enough.

I thought life didn’t get any better than the fun that materialize when whenever the girls were home.

But family life did get even better when my daughters had children of their own. From the time my four grandkids were little infants snuggled in their cozy blankets I was awed by everything about them.

While I thought the baby stage was the best, I learned that wasn’t true. When they got older they became even more fun and the laughs were always there once “the kids” arrived.

One thing that surprised me was how much I continually learned from them. Everything from the best music and pop culture to tips on how to tame the beast called technology.

I can struggle with a computer program for hours and not get anywhere. If I’m lucky enough to have a grandson around, they solve my problem in minutes.

Now that the grandkids are grown and far away I think their absence made me dumber and older. No one else teaches me about new technology.

My friends and I sometimes lament that we are in a balmy tropical paradise, but we can’t lure family to visit often enough.

My daughters do call quite often and this week we found something that almost feels like having them here.

As a family we rarely used Zoom but this week we all had to be on Zoom for an important conference call.

When I saw how neat it was to actually see my daughters while talking with them I decided they are right. We need to do it more often.

I’m truly blessed in that my daughters do visit often, especially if I’m having a problem. That’s not the case in many families.

All too often grandparents long for family visits that don’t happen.

Hey, kids. Want to give them the best Christmas present?

Go for a visit.

Your presence would be the perfect gift.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.