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    BWS Stories - "Alone Again (Naturally)"...Empty Nest

    "Alone Again (Naturally)"...Empty Nest - A Mom Prepares for the Empty Nest

    Brenda Mayfield is a CLASS-certified speaker, educator, and director of an international women’s prayer ministry. She’s a contributing author to Laundry Tales to Lighten Your Load and her works have appeared in various magazines. Brenda’s soon-to-be empty nest is in northern California. Visit or E-mail

    A Mom Prepares for the Empty Nest

            My eyes tear as I notice our first-born son claw the edge of the nest, his wings ready for flight. He has a right to prepare for take-off, but will I let him fly? Or will I attempt to clip his wings? Only seventeen years old, how will he survive out there? This spring he will toss up his tasseled cap and leave his perch. His brother, only 1 ½ years younger, has begun to scan the horizon and will soon spread his wings too. But I know they will both leave feathers behind.

            Feathers. They remind me of an actual bird, my blue and yellow parakeet, who resided in my kitchen for many years. He would sit on my shoulder and sing to me while I cooked. Then came the somber night when we found Bud lying stiff on the bottom of his cage. Heartache prodded the kids off to bed early, with Dad soon to follow. I switched off the lights and slouched on the sofa, grieving over the new silence in my kitchen.

            My thoughts traced back over previous months and how Bud had spent little time on my shoulder. Life had become hectic, distracting me with other priorities. My heart quivered at the loss of delightful company and pleasant songs. With sobs I crackled, "Oh Bud, I should have taken more time to enjoy you."

            Heart piercing words, as if from Heaven, sank down upon me, "Could you say this of your sons: 'I should have taken more time to enjoy you?'"

            Bud's eyes closed in order to open mine. In my hutch are photos of my children propped next to a bowl full of feathers, which I had collected whenever Bud had molted. I removed two of them and promised I would take more time to enjoy my boys. That moment began a new routine I called the Feather Reminder. Each week I treated a son to ice cream or lunch and we conversed. I loved every date.

            Soon I will again cry at the silence in my kitchen. I will lose my appetite when I notice empty chairs at the table. I will stuff abundant leftovers into containers because I’ll have made supper for four instead of just two. I will peer outside at the unused basketball court and waveless pool.

             In the middle of the night I will open a bedroom door to check on two empty beds. My feet will then tiptoe downstairs to the hutch and my nurturing hand select two feathers, one yellow, one blue. (Hmm, yellow happens to be one son's favorite color and blue, the other's.) I will press the feathers gently between my palms and sit down to pray. "Thank you, God, for keeping my boys alive and well." To each of them my lonesome fingers will write a letter. When I place the feathers back in the bowl and admire the adjacent photos, my heart will smile at great family memories.

            Today young larks teeter on a nest's edge, but the feathers they leave behind will be cherished.

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