This is not the retirement I envisioned. Not by a long shot.
Ever since our first child, Kim, was born exactly – to the day – a year and a half after Evelyn and I were married, there has been a child in our home. In addition to the three we bore we voluntarily opened our arms to 72 additional children within a 28-year time span, not to mention the 28 day care children Evelyn cared for as well.
When we adopted Karlyn (our 60th foster child who has lived with us her entire life save for the 10 days she spent in the hospital before arriving in our home) we did not consider the possibility that she would still be living with us as she was approaching her 22nd birthday. Karlyn recently announced that she’s had it with living here, and she was going to move out because of the intolerable conditions she has to live with. She was planning to move in with her boyfriend who’s living with his ailing mother, but all of a sudden, lately, she’s coming across as not being quite so eager to leave. She called over the weekend while she was visiting her birth family in NJ to tell me that they had had chicken noodle soup for a meal, and it reminded her of the chicken noodle soup that Evelyn made and that we would take to her when she was staying at the Terry Center, a facility in New Castle. She felt so grateful and just wanted me to know that. I was taken in by it until Evelyn pointed out that Karlyn’s probably getting cold feet about leaving here and wants to create a more accepting atmosphere before the time comes that she said she was leaving. It puts me in a hell of a position, because Evelyn’s determined to make sure Karlyn follows thru. I also want her to be on her own, but I just wish it weren’t under the circumstances that Karlyn’s created, which she essentially continues to frame as us kicking her out. When your child is ready to move into adulthood, it should be a rite of passage to celebrate, not a stomach-churning time of pushing guilt buttons and harboring hard feelings. I’m not looking forward to the next coupla weeks.
On the positive side, there’s a good chance that Karlyn could be moving up in the photography company she’s been working for. Her boss has tendered his two-week notification, and has endorsed Karlyn to the company as a good prospect for taking over management of the studio. It would come with steadier hours and more pay, of course, which would make her idea of moving in with her boyfriend more workable.
We also have been hosts to a friend of Karlyn’s, Tyanna (sp?), a 20-something young woman who needed to move out of her house because of her abusive father. Not sure where she would go if Karlyn’s no longer here, because the only reason she’s here is that Karlyn’s here, too. Tyanna did find a job at McDonald’s (she bikes there because she has no driver’s license) and had offered to cover her costs, but we still have to sit down and figure out what a reasonable amount would be. On the one hand, I can tell she’s trying to be helpful (she washes dishes and prepares her own meals, for example), but, on the other, she can be careless, too. I found the freezer drawer under our refrigerator opened a couple of times. She makes a mess when she’s cooking and doesn’t clean up. That kind of thing. So that’s another concern we have that doesn’t seem to have a resolution at this point.
Again, having to deal with a daughter who presents complicated choices, a wife who’s suffering with pain from diverticulitis, and having another person in our home, just to name a few, are hardly the components of the image I had of my retirement. I’m not saying that Evelyn and I deserve to have some time to ourselves before we shuffle off to Gloryland, but I also don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation, either. After devoting every moment of our nearly-54-year marriage (after the first 18 months) to children in one fashion or another, it would really be nice to spend some time just by ourselves.