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Filling the empty nest
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I was having a chat with my auntie on the phone the other night — you know my auntie, the one with the heavy Boston accent — discussing her grandkids and how the oldest grandkid was going off to college.

I still couldn’t believe it.

Time was sure slipping by.

“Oh my Gaw-ud, Ellie, what ah those two gonna do with her being gone outta the house?”

Her sweet momma and daddy? My cousin and his lovely bride? Talk about two darling people. She’s the sweetest person you could ever meet — not a mean bone in her body. He is a gem, soft spoken and just as cute as pie.

“Oh Auntie, you know those two. They’ll end up turning her bedroom into a ‘romper’ room!”

“A rompah room? What’s that?”

“You know ...‘while the cat’s away, the mice will play’?” I replied.

“Oh my Gaw-ud, ah you tawkin’ about doin’ — you know — that kind of stuff?”

I laughed, because I could picture her cheeks just starting to glow pink with embarrassment.

“Yeah! Why not? No child in the house to worry about ‘walking in’ on them ... they could meet up at lunchtime once a week ... something to ‘spice up’ their love life...!”

She started laughing.

And laughing.

“Yeah,” I went on, “I saw an episode of ‘Doc Martin’ on PBS, it’s a really good show by the way, and one of his patients was a guy about 55 years old who’d come in with a cracked rib. He wasn’t quite sure how he got it, he said, must have been when he fell off the ladder while painting his boat. The Doc goes on telling him how he has to go to the hospital for x-rays and whatnot and to be very careful, how he needed to take certain precautions et cetera, and a few days later, while Doc is down at the beach tending to a woman who’s memory lapsed as she walked into the ocean looking for the pharmacy, this guy falls again, into the mud by his boat.”

I took a breath.

“Doc tells the guy and his wife he wants to see them both in his office. So they follow him up to his office and he starts telling them that he has seen a report at the hospital of all the injuries this guy has had over the past two years. About 17 different episodes of fractured, broken, or sprained body parts. He suggests that the man possibly has a brain tumor that is making him lose his balance and he has made arrangements for the guy to go immediately into the hospital for testing. The wife leans over and whispers into the guy’s ear and he abruptly stands up and says, ‘Thanks for your help, Doc ... we won’t be needing to do that ... thanks anyway ... we’ll be seeing you..’ and off they go.”

At this point, all my auntie has heard is the term ‘brain tumor’ and she interjects, “Oh my Gaw-ud ... why was he gettin’ hurt all the time? A brain tuma? Was he fallin’ down?”

“Well,” I continued, “what happened next is that the wife calls a few days later, in a panic, asking for Doc to come right away cause there is an emergency at their house. He grabs his kit and off he goes. She meets him in the driveway and rushes him upstairs. She opens the door to the room and it’s almost pitch dark in there. He asks her to please turn on a light because he can’t see. She pulls the curtains back and snaps the shades up and Doc says, ‘Oh. My. God.’”

Then I started laughing.

“What? WHAT?” Auntie asks with anticipation.

“The husband, all 250 pounds of him, is trussed up like a turkey. Black leather and whatnot, sorta strapped to the ceiling while he’s suspended there, wearing his ‘gear.’ Doc says, ‘What on earth!’ and the wife says, ‘I think he’s sprained his shoulder...’ Doc gets a hypodermic out and says, ‘I think this will hurt, but then, you probably won’t mind,’ and the wife goes on to explain how once the kids had left, they needed something to ‘spice up’ the marriage, so they turned one of the extra bedrooms into their ‘rumpus room’ and ...”

Meanwhile, my auntie had let out a whoop and was laughing her tail off on the other end, no doubt seeing this situation applied to her son and his bride.

“Doc tells them they need to find a safer hobby and leaves, totally disgusted. It was hilarious!”

Auntie takes a breath and says, “It would be OK for them, she’s a nurse!” and we both laughed our heads off.

After we’d caught our breath, she said, “You know, what are you two gonna do when yours goes off to college?”

“Well, certainly not that! I think I’m gonna buy a chauffeur’s uniform and make Hubs wear it when we go out. It would be the first suit he’s had in 30 years.”

“What are you gonna wear?”

“Oh! Anything I want! He’s always wanted a job that makes him look respectable. And it would finally give me an opportunity to boss him around. I mean, come on. Can you even picture him harnessed up like that? I’d harness him up and then go on vacation somewhere!”

Laugh? Yes we did.

With school starting next week, I’m certainly not going to enjoy my leisure time walking around in crazy leather outfits.

I’ll stick to the safety of gardening.

If I need to see what dumb things people get into after their kids leave home, I’ll just click on the TV.

That’s all the spice I need.