Empty Nester Loneliness:
There’s a Furry Answer

A load of concrete might fill the hole left in the house after the kids leave. Seventy-six trombones and fifty drummers might liven up the deadly stillness. And then there are old Seinfeld reruns to provide a few laughs. But will this fill the emptiness? Maybe you never heard the floorboards creak or the clock tick because a CD was blaring out of one room and a voice was calling from the next room to “shut that thing up so I can talk on the cell!” This, coupled with young friends ringing the doorbell, then racing upstairs, calling loudly all the way, while slamming the door behind them. All this comes with a full house. Now the creeping fog of silence fills the air. What will offer the warmth and fullness a caring individual provides? . . .

International “Birdies” Need a Nest to Call Home:
The Pacific Intercultural Exchange

“Congratulations! It’s a boy!” Thus was emblazoned the card that 73-year-old Pat Jones received, indicating she would soon be welcoming a bouncing teenage boy from Lebanon. Pat had applied to become a host parent through Pacific Intercultural Exchange (PIE), a nonprofit program that brings international high school students to the United States for a year of academic and cultural exchange. An empty nester for 20 years, Pat was living a life of volunteer work, travel, and outings with friends. She became involved with PIE when her daughter took on the role of regional manager for her home state of Kentucky, plus Ohio and Indiana, and recruited her to be the local area representative. Pat discovered that she enjoyed finding qualified host families, being the school liaison, and mentoring students once they arrived in the U.S. This year, however, would be different. . . .

Cheeseburgers in Paradise:
Anniversary Trip of a Lifetime

Imagine this: As far as the eye can see—azure skies, waters of aquamarine, rolling green hills rising up from islands dotting the seascape. You soak up the sunshine, bask in the warm air, and glide through the tropical waters. A gentle breeze cools your skin. Hungry? Feast on mango or pineapple—or freshly caught fish. Tired? Rest your head and drift off for a bit. Bored? Grab the helm or snorkel a reef. Setting sun? Enjoy its delicious colors, rum punch in hand. Then ready yourself for dinner, a short dinghy ride ashore from your sailing yacht. Am I dreaming? No, amazingly enough. But how does one describe getting to paradise and back? . . .

Real People Empty Nesting
Laurine Valenti: Goddess of Carpe Diem

Laurine Valenti joined the ranks of empty nesters when her daughters grew up and moved out, and since then she’s made the most of her free time. From volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and her church’s various charities, to serving as working crew on the 1883 wooden barkentine Gazela, to pursuing her passion for sailing with the Nockamixon Sail Club (PA), Laurine lets no grass grow under her feet. She gives new meaning to the notion carpe diem. . . .

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