The Empty Nest Goes Awry

FALAcomputer

Sometime in the last eight years, our Empty Nest turned into a palace for this rescue cat. Fala and his littermate Sisy joined our home the day before our son’s eighth birthday. When they came to live with us, they behaved as pets.  We were not their servants.

I am buying Metamucil for our cat as instructed by our veterinarian. Fala, our aging Tom, has gastrointestinal distress.

I’m hiding behind the magazines in the drugstore line, like the pimply-faced teenage hero of “Summer of 42.” I’m stacking random items, a greeting card, razors, gum, and toothpaste, like Herbie in the iconic coming-of-age movie. Can I refocus the clerk from my purchase of a constipation cure, like Herbie hid condoms from his clerk?  I don’t want anyone to see me buying Metamucil, even if it is for Fala.

Sometime in the last eight years, our Empty Nest turned into a palace for this rescue cat. Fala and his littermate Sisy joined our home the day before our son’s eighth birthday. When they came to live with us, they behaved as pets.  We were not their servants.

When our only son left for college 1,100 miles away, my husband and I gained a hole in our heart as wide as Texas. A year later, Sisy died. We were two sad people left with a lonely cat.

Now our son works in the city where he graduated from college. He has a fulfilled, happy life. We don’t want him to return to our nest; that’s not what’s best for him. And we support his choices.

But something has seriously changed. Since Sisy’s death, we’ve crossed over an imaginary line to a place where Fala presides.

Was it when Fala’s arthritic legs could no longer jump on our king sized bed, where he sleeps with us? We bought pet stairs, just his size. Now he can quickly come up to the bed and find his uber-comfy, memory foam bed complete with a plush kitty-sized blanket.

Was it when he cried for food and we moved his bowl up from the basement to the master bath, along with his water jug that looks like a tiny water cooler?

Or was it when he was just too tired to walk the ten feet to get a drink, and I started giving him a drink from his own plastic glass marked by a Sharpie with “Fala.”

Or was it last week when his Daddy took him to the vet and we learned that Fala was gassy and constipated? Fala is eighteen; in human terms that’s more than eighty years old. Perhaps the grand old man needs extra tender loving care.

Or maybe we’re just completely over the edge, awash in grief over our Empty Nest, humanizing this ten-pound ball of fur.

Despite his lack of verbal skills or opposable thumbs, Fala clearly makes his wishes known to the management. We oblige and pamper.

Isn’t that what good parents are supposed to do?

Amy McVay Abbott is an Indiana writer and the author of multiple books, including the No Words series for people with dementia. Her  columns A Healthy Age and The Raven  Lunatic are available through Senior Wire News Service and published all over the country. Follow Amy on Twitter  @seniorraven or visit her online home at www.amyabbottwrites.com.

Photo courtesy of Amy McVay Abbott

1*uSFwL3t4cU010HNcWqH3Vw
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
5341066529_860a317b53_b
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
9473460913_f0e1c0df6d_z
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
1*uSFwL3t4cU010HNcWqH3Vw
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Wedding_rings
I Married for Health Insurance
1024px-white_mocha_ice_cream
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
9473460913_f0e1c0df6d_z
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
1*uSFwL3t4cU010HNcWqH3Vw
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
31748741123_4874f2e4d0_z
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
WAR & CONFLICT BOOKERA:  WORLD WAR II/PERSONALITIES
Fascism Facts
Wedding_rings
I Married for Health Insurance
5341066529_860a317b53_b
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
1024px-white_mocha_ice_cream
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
saudi-women-vote
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Israel Palestine BDS AIPAC Clinton
HRC, AIPAC, BDS and UC
800px-Girls_At_Highland_Avenue_Train_Stop
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
800px-Girls_At_Highland_Avenue_Train_Stop
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
369.the-eyes-have-it1
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread