Sometimes the empty nest doesn’t look like we thought it would. At all. Today I am introducing you to my long-time friend, Lisa Wenstrand. Lisa and her husband, Eldon, were in our young marrieds Sunday School class years ago and lived nearby. We had our babies right around the same time and were close friends. Eventually, they moved away to be closer to family and sadly, we lost touch. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected several years ago. We were so glad – because their life was about to change dramatically…
(Suzy) Tell us a little about your family.
(Lisa) I have 2 grown daughters, Kim, and Erin. Kim is married to her husband Bobby, and they have my two precious grandsons Bowen and Baylor. Erin lives at home with me and attends a local college. We lost my husband Eldon three years ago to cancer.
How long ago did your nest empty?
Actually, it’s not really empty. Erin and I have been “roomies” now for three years. I became a single parent when she was a high school senior. Parenting her through that year was especially hard. I am proud to say she will graduate this June with an Associates in Dental Hygiene. Kim was already married and a new mom when her dad died. She has since completed her education and works as a Dental Hygienist. We have very clean teeth around here!
What was it like when your oldest daughter left the nest?
When my older daughter married and moved out, I missed her terribly. After Eldon was diagnosed, she was over every day to see him. She would bring the baby, and we all got to spend a lot of time together. Those are sweet memories that I have now.
What has it been like to face the empty nest without your husband?
I’ve had to opportunity to travel with my sister and brother-in-law to Europe twice – something I have always wanted to do. I saw Paris, London, and Florence, Italy. It was bittersweet, though. I think Eldon would have loved it!
Honestly, though, everything has been very challenging without my husband. Parenting by myself; trying to deal with my own grief; supporting my daughters while they grieved. Dealing with finances, home, and car repairs, and yard work, all while still working full time as an RN. Finding myself alone after being married for 25 years was a challenge and overwhelmingly sad. I leaned on my family, friends, and church for support.
What has surprised you about this time?
My relationship with my daughters has grown and matured. It’s just “us girls” now, and we lean on each other for support. It has been a joy to see Kim become such a wonderful wife and mother, and to have Erin on the cusp of starting her career. We have all discovered that grief has no time limit – it is not a task to finish and move on. It becomes part of you. And we are different today that we would have been if Eldon would not have died. Not better or worse, just different.
Do you have any advice for other empty nesters or nearly empty nesters?
I would advise everyone to make sure you know all about your finances. It is very common for one spouse or the other to make financial decisions, pay the bills, etc. I let Eldon take the lead on our finances and bill paying because I hated that stuff! Well, guess what? Now I have to do it. It took a long time for me to adjust. Losing Eldon at 49 years young was something that I never thought would happen to me. It is good to be prepared for whatever life may bring.
(Suzy) I am completely in awe of my friend Lisa. Her husband, Eldon, was a wonderful, solid man of faith, and an incredible husband and father. Lisa’s faith, courage, and forbearance in the midst of her trials have borne witness to her strength of character. I am so grateful to her for sharing her story with us today. My prayer is that it blesses and inspires you!