Eric and I were in Napa Valley a few years ago. It is a great place for adults to do things that adults like to do, particularly those who are empty-nesters or who left their children at home. We took a wine tour, played golf, ate nice dinners, visited with new friends and relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful sights.
We also walked every day. During our walks, we discovered the Veterans Home of California near our hotel. It is a scenic, campus-like home for qualified veterans, complete with a 1,200 seat theater (home of the Napa Valley Symphony), 9-hole golf course, RV park, baseball stadium, bowling lanes, and swimming pool. The campus is nestled in the scenic hills of Napa Valley with great views and within walking distance of the village of Yountville, even for those using a motorized scooter. It’s great that the California Department of Veterans Affairs is able to make such nice accommodations available to those who have served our country. There is probably a long waiting list to get into the facility. If it were a private facility, it would be in great demand.
Eric and I are veterans so we meet some of the basic eligibility criteria. But I do not strive to become a resident of the facility. I am hoping to avoid nursing home care.
In the documentary by Doug Block, The Kids Grow Up, he chronicles his daughter’s senior year of high school and how he and his wife dealt with their only daughter’s imminent departure for college. This is a stressful time for parents and child. The parents are saying goodbye to their daughter and coming to terms with their own mortality. In the movie, while in a therapeutic walking pool at a Florida recreation center, Mr. Block is quoted as telling his wife: “This is our future together. Get used to it.”
I can relate. When you become an empty-nester, your focus shifts from raising a child to . . . . what? What are you going to do with your extra time? Will you work more, find a new hobby, start blogging, watch more TV, have more sex (Eric votes yes)? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Even if you still have kids at home, you may want to start thinking about this now. It goes by fast.
4 thoughts on “Views from an Empty Nest”
I kinda faced some mortality issues and the kid was 6. Kinda places things philosophical on the accelerated track.
I’m of the Jack London school. Leave me by the fire with a bundle of sticks. I hope the Crown Prince doesn’t leave me wet punk as a last practical joke.
I think the lesson I learned from my Dad’s sudden accidental death right after he retired is the importance of fully living life RIGHT NOW . . . since no one knows what tomorrow might bring.
That’s not to say, of course, that it’s good to be profligate today and destitute in later years, but I think it’s equally bad to be overly-thrifty and security-minded now, sacrificing too much for a future that may never come. It’s finding the right balance between the now and the then that’s hard, I think.
So I like spending our empty nest time traveling and playing and eating/drinking good things and working in a job that I enjoy and seeing, learning and doing new things (not to mention fully appreciating the short times when the chick returns home to the nest) . . . Alfred Lord Tennyson defined this core value for me in one of my all-time favorite poems, “Ulysses:”
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
But, at bottom line, whatever the rest of my life has to offer, the most important thing is that I know that I want to experience it with you! XOXO.
And I with you. Having an empty nest has afforded us additional time together, which I treasure. I am sure we will do many great things together.
I’ve started thinking seriously about how to make my house more geriatric friendly. My husband has the longevity gene so I’m counting on leaving home before he does.