Tears, Fears & Retirees
"Mommy, can't we go inside our house one more time?" James asks as I tuck him into bed at Grandma's house.
"No, son, it's not our house anymore."
"You mean, we can't go there anymore AT ALL, LIKE NEVER EVER?" Jude asks, his voice cracking on a note of panic.
"Don't worry, Jude, I'm going to buy our house back when I grow up!" James vows.
Jewel has been quiet, listening. Finally, she says, "But if you buy it back, James, it still won't have my butterfly wallpaper."
"I can put it back up," he reassures her.
We say prayers and I tuck them in. They peer out at me above their blankets, trembling lips, watery eyes.
"Think of all the good times," Daddy says. "That's what helped me."
"You cried, too?" they ask.
"I got a little weepy," Daddy says.
"You cried?" I ask. I'm shocked. The Man Who Does Not Show Emotion got weepy? This does not compute.
"Well, there weren't tears streaming down my cheeks, if that's what you're asking," he clarifies.
"Oh, yeah. I'm the only one around here who does that," I chuckle.
"But it did kinda hit me," he admits, "once I was walking through all the empty rooms and remembering all the good times."
"I wish I could have seen you cry," I say. Because it's about as rare as seeing Haley's Comet.
He shakes his head at me, rolling his eyes.
We say goodnight to the children and leave the room.
The twins are restless and keep us up most of the night with their fussiness. I think they know we're not at home.
But in the morning, the old folks in my parents' senior living community smile at us as we herd the children around.
"I didn't know young folks still had big families," one of them says to me. "It's so nice to see young people having big families."
That's when I start to feel at home again. I don't need a physical place to call home. I've got my family and the World War II vets. I'm at home. These are my peeps.