Can you believe 2013 is nearly over, and we’re in the final throes of the Holiday Trifecta? It’s hard to fathom how quickly a year passes, how the weeks seem to pick up speed as we move toward December. At the end of each year, as the days grow shorter, we reflect back on what happened in our lives (and what didn’t). When you hit your 50s and 60s, like Henry and I have, you start to notice that each year is a smaller fraction of your age—kind of like a snowball hitting you in the face. For Henry, each year is 1/65th of his life. For me, it’s 1/57th—an astonishingly thin sliver of life that bears no resemblance to a pizza pie, or to a seemingly endless school year with a mean teacher in childhood.
Fortuitously, this is both my 40thblog post and my last one for 2013. What will I think of next? (Stay tuned!) Meanwhile, I thought these final dark days of December would be a good time to reflect on some of the changes in my never-empty nest.
My twins, Max and Sarah, are celebrating their 23rd birthday on December 26th. For the first time in their lives, my “chicks” will not be celebrating together. Max got another last minute invitation to go skiing, so he’ll be on a snow covered mountain in a different time zone from the rest of us. Sarah will be in NYC, but not with her parents. Sarah’s boyfriend Jake wants to take her out on her “actual” birthday. The lovebirds plan to celebrate alone and retire to Jake’s nest. Henry and I are happy for our kids, but also just the tiniest bit sad. Our son and daughter are slowly taking flight as young adults should, and it’s nearing the end of an era for the Elisofon family
Sarah has lost 33 pounds and is still struggling (like most of the world) with the last five. She looks beautiful anyway. While still doggedly following her meal replacement diet, my daughter managed to handle the stress of final exams, earning three As and a B, putting her on dean’s list and enabling her to keep her $8,500 scholarship for her next and last semester of college. Way to go Sarah! Perhaps my daughter’s biggest accomplishment of all is her relationship with Jake, which has been going on for almost 3 months. This young couple may be on the autistic spectrum, but they are also in love. Contrary to the opinions of some “experts,” having an autistic spectrum disorder and enjoying an intimate romantic relationship are not mutually exclusive. So parents of Asperger’s and PDD kids, please don’t give up hope.
Case in point: our 11 year old Norwich terrier, Sparky, has made a full recovery from his $3,000 knee surgery in October. He no longer jumps up on our bed, but instead he puts his paws on the mattress and longingly looks up at me with dark, soulful eyes. That’s my cue to heave his 17 pound body up onto the bed. Nevertheless, as soon as I lift him, Sparky has the nerve to growl! Is it possible our dog—like some people—resents growing old and needing help?
In older age, Sparky has matured from merely mischievous to ferociously raccoon-like when it comes to the pursuit of anything he considers remotely edible. Sparky has happily consumed my Orbit bubblemint gum and Henry’s Ricola cough drops (complete with wrappers) along with garbage on the street. If Sparky had to choose between an axe murderer killing the Elisofon family, or a handful of Cheerios, I’m confident we would all be dead.
Maybe growing old gracefully—for me—means letting go of my children at their pace instead of at mine, even if their flight seems slow and wobbly or ill-timed. Who knew that Sarah and Max would choose December 26th—their 23rd birthday—to exit the nest and celebrate away from us and each other? And who knew how much Henry and I would miss them?