Empty nester. I have heard the phrase over the years and never really given it much thought. Till now that is. I am an empty nester you see. It happens rather suddenly. You know it’s going to happen at some theoretical level and then suddenly it’s upon you.
Things started to get real when the suitcases came out of the loft and packing began in earnest. Even little Cookie seemed to get a premonition as she sat watching the box fill up.
A room was going to be empty soon. No boy to nag. To remind to bathe on time and brush his teeth at bedtime. To go to when I get tech challenged and ask for help. To drag with us for our weekly Sunday family walks. To say good night to, a little ritual that I will miss so dearly.
In our own different ways, both wifey and I tried our best to pack in all the advice and knowledge we could, to help him on his journey. “Don’t keep all your money in the same place” … “Remember to carry extra sanitiser and masks” …. “Have you got all your travel documents in an easy to access and safe place” …” What about a travel hair dryer, have you packed one?… I must confess that last bit of advice never even entered my head for obvious reasons.
But like this, it went for many weeks leading up to the big departure day. All our knowledge and wisdom. Our insecurities and fears. Our dreams and hopes. Some knowingly and others unwittingly we packed into those two suitcases and backpack. That is when it struck me, we had 19 years of packing in play not a few weeks. It’s his turn to go explore the world and unpack whatever he needs from those years and use it as he pleases on the way. Some stuff will be left behind. Some will get lost. The really important stuff he will carry with him wherever he goes. We have been packing it all in from the day he arrived in our lives. A new journey has begun. For all of us. And I reminded myself to enjoy it.
Dr. Seuss says,
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”
As I unpack the moments in my quiet time, some stand out, but when they were being made I had no way of knowing which ones would be the ones I value most. So, I must stay present and enjoy them all. Pack them all in. Knowing that someday in the future when I need, I can unpack that memory. Packing and unpacking, in the present.
A closing thought connected to my profession. We communicate not so much with our words but by our actions. What we tell him is important. But what we have shown him is equally powerful. In PR parlance it’s the “show and tell” or the “plant visit” or the “experiential launch event” that brings alive the essence of what a company or brand stands for. It’s how we as a family responded to a crisis and what we did when times were tough that are the learning moments that we have packed in for him.
May the road rise to meet you as you navigate this new highway to life my son. May the road rise to meet all of us as we walk into the new year. Enjoy the journey. Stay present. Pack in the moments. Unpack the memories.
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