Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Oh dear, I’ve misled you into thinking that I'm Anne of Green Gables. Or maybe I mean Pollyanna. My ten happy things are indeed aspects of life for which I am, and ought to be, grateful. And they do make me happy. But I’m actually a bit melancholy these days from time to time. The trouble with having nice children who have always been sweet and loving and funny is that they leave such a void when they go. But would I have preferred rude, charmless offspring? Or not to have had them? No.

I suppose it’s just the sadness that inevitably comes with life. Willy Loman complains that the mortgage is paid off and “there’s no one home”, and his wife Linda says, “Life is a casting off. It’s always been that way”. I’m amazed at the insights that Arthur Miller had into getting old and feeling unfulfilled – and he wrote “Death of a Salesman” when he was 33.

If this is what I’m like while we still have sweet, loving, funny Daughter 2 at home, what am I going to be like when she goes? You won’t want to read my blog then. And of course she must leave and make her own life too in due course.

Three nights a week I go up and sleep in my mother’s house to keep her company. I’ve done this for over two years, since before my father died. She’s 87 now and very active for her age, but she does tend to pour out her worries on to me, which is quite understandable but not cheering. I never particularly want to leave my own house, with Mr Life, Daughter 2 and the catlets, and set out into the dark to hear her views about bankers and her anxieties about her roof.

And yet, and yet, and yet… there are good things too, and we’re warm and well and fed and neither too hot nor too cold. I need to count my blessings. I know this. And most of the time, I’m counting away. Life's all right really.


  1. Oh, Isabelle,

    At least you have made me feel less short-changed about having rather rude children. My home life is volatile to say the least: who knows what I will do when the children are moved out? Luckily I do like my own company.

    Yes, i recently decided that life indeed is a constant train of losing things. but not so long ago I was so desperately unhappy that now I am constantly grateful for very small things.

    I have a trick which I play on myself, where i imagine myself in a room, in bed, and the sun coming up outside, but I can;t see it because I am unable to walk without assistance. then I say, how I miss my family who are all gone, and how I wish I could just get up out of bed and walk across to the window...

    and then of course, I DO! I CAN walk to the window, and my family are all still alive, and how happy this makes me.

    This might sound very stupid, but if I feel melancholy I do it. I can walk across the room, I can run don to the beach, I can do so many things. that not everybody can...

    hmm, I think I have filled your comments quite enough now. Goodnight, dear Isabelle. Don't forget to watch the sunrise out the window when you awake. I think there will be beautiful flowers out there too.


  2. I understand perfectly.

    And I must say i am dying for some young scottish doctor tales if you could.


  3. Children leaving home is indeed not at all easy to cope with. Mine left early, because of the family breakup and because I was not coping at all. Naturally they did not want to have to put up with this, but I felt very cheated, as I had not finished mothering and there were so many things I had wanted to do during their adolescence and last years of school, and we lost that time. Two of them lived with me again some years later, and that was very good. But I mourn that lost time.

    I loved your list from your previous post, and share very many of those passions.

  4. Oh Isabelle, I do hope it gets a bit better with the coming warmer weather. I know just how you feel, I've been feeling a bit that way myself. Son2 really wants to stay far south of here (he doesn't like the cold weather) when he graduates, but I just want him closer to home. For once, a poor economy might be a good thing -- he may land back here out of necessity.

    I do think we mothers are worriers by nature. If you weren't worrying that your children were leaving, do you supposed it would be something else? I'm sure it would be for me. We must get you quilting or knitting. They do help in someways, although those quiet times with my fabric always cause more reflecting. Oh dear, I've just talked myself out of that argument LOL! XOXO and a big hug to you!

  5. Anonymous2:19 pm

    When our children went to college, I always had the hope that they would move close by when they finished their studies. But, they had the audacity to live their own lives. Some how they all wound up living in the same city about 5 hours from us and started producing my grandchildren. I cried for years, hard boohoo sobs. Maybe it was menopause complicating things. Of course, we visited as often as possible,but it just wasn't enough. I finally convinced my husband to move us to the children. And, we did...4 yrs ago. Amazingly, the crying stopped. I can't remember the last time I cried. I have 4 precious grandchildren and 3 wonderful children. Incredibly, the son and the father of 3 of the grands, took another position in another city...5 hours from here. Fortunately, daughters 1&2 are still here and one sweet grandson. I know, I love him too much.
    I guess all of that was to say..even when I try to catch up with life and make it my way...it continues to change. I know the sadness that you are feeling. I don't know how mothers bear it when there is no hope of seeing the childrlen ever again...that's not your situation. You see yours, and will continue seeing them. And grands will come along just to complicate things, haha. And life WILL go on, and if your list is any indication, you will
    continue living a happier life. God bless you!

  6. You're in the sandwich, aren't you, between caring for mum and caring for offspring. You have a career but that's caring for others too. Things like your gardening are caring... Time to find time for Something Completely Different, for another side of Isabelle?

    That's my two pen'orth!

  7. And as my mother used to say "God never closes one window but he opens another." The void you're anticipating might be joyfully filled by grandchildren, eventually! At least that's what I'm hoping for you as I know how happy it would make you....
    Meanwhile, I have to agree with Thimbleanna and Frankophile----the time may be ripe for you to take up the making of quilts!

  8. Light and dark. Life's like that huh? I admire your dedication to your Mum You are returning to fill her nest!

    Maybe, just maybe you can find some time for you in all this?

  9. Oh, Anonymous - don't know if you'll ever look back here, but what a sad, but comforting comment - thank you for it. It's not just me, then... Well, I know it's not, but my friends seem to cope better.

    Though let's not exaggerate. I do cope.

    Thank to all other commenters too.

  10. Just say the word and I'll lend you the boys for an afternoon. Guaranteed to make you value your peace!!

  11. Anonymous1:37 pm

    Oh dear and now you sound all melancholy. That's the thing with blogs - we write something of the moment and people read it and think it pervades our whole time. I often write a sad piece in the middle of feeling really quite upbeat and then feel guilty when people write loads of supportive and kind comments and vice versa.

    I suppose the empty nest thing must be hard. I can't really imagine. I actually look forward to having the freedom to travel more extensively but probably when the time comes I may feel differently.

    Three nights at your mother's house is a massive sacrifice - I am full of admiration for that.

    I think some people are just nicer and more family orientated than others. I don't think I am one of those nice homely ones really for whom family necessarily always comes first.

  12. Can't comment on offspring leaving home, as my only experience of that is my own, when I married my first husband against my father's wishes.
    But your situation with your Mum is something I can relate to. One of the ways we cope with having MIL living with us, is remembering that she had her kids living with her for 20 plus years. Is it so hard for her son and daugher-in-law to have her living with them for the last year or so of her life? So many people suffer pangs of guilt after their parents have died, thinking what they should have done for them. We won't have that problem, Isabelle. Mr Life must be a very kind and understanding hubby to let you stay overnight with your Mum so regularly. Hugs to both of you.

  13. Daughter 2 will leave one day:-(

    Let's hope some grandchildren come along and fill the void.

  14. I am not looking forward to the day mine fly the nest. I only just managed when they started school! I just try to keep telling myself to enjoy them and equip them as best as I can. The rest is up to fate.

  15. Life flows like a river. Your mother must feel incredibly blessed to have you come care for her. That is, when she's not concerned about the roof.

    Say, there's an award over here if you want it:

  16. Gom used to encourage me to go each year to spend 3 + weeks with my mother, in NZ. I appreciated his understanding of the fact, I needed that time with her. At the end I spend 3 months caring for her.
    I was the rebel, & left home early to go off & live a far-a-way life. Somehow it strengthened our bond.
    I do get sad, still, at the fact that my 2 sons are far away.