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Photo by Karen Nazor Hill
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Karen Nazor-Hill

Three weeks of retirement and I've yet to sleep in.

That's a good thing.

I've decided that staying busy, whether it's running errands, spending time with a friend or, ugh, cleaning house or working in the yard, is more productive than vegging out in bed or the couch. But what I've really discovered, thus far, is the best part of my day is when my three grandchildren — Tilleigh, 9; Evie, 6, and William, 3 — get home from school.

In the "old" days, one of the kids would call me at work around 4:30 p.m. to ask me if I was either home yet or when would I be home. Until recently, if it was Evie who called to ask the daily question, and if I told her I was still at work, she cried and hung up the phone without saying goodbye. And while that sounds a bit rude, it made me smile.

In our "new" normal, the kids jump out of the car in the driveway at their house, which is next door, and beeline it to my house. The subdued atmosphere in my house quickly morphs into chaos — music to my ears. You see, it wasn't all that long ago (well, 16 years, but time goes by fast), that my youngest son moved away from home to go to college. Then five years later, he headed off to California to work on his doctorate (where, by the way, with doctorate in hand, he still lives. And it's unlikely that he'll ever move back to Tennessee).

So I'm very aware of how life takes its twists and turns and, suddenly, one's family can be spread across the country. No more swim meets, homework, family dinners, birthday celebrations, etc. Family life as you know it takes a drastic turn. Even Christmases are never the same.

But the passage of time may bring you something that jump starts a new way of life — grandchildren.

I may be 63, but these three little kids make me feel like a young mother all over again. They blast through my back door, kick off their shoes, which go in different directions all over the kitchen, then smother me kisses and hugs — just before they tell me they're hungry.

Just like it was in the old days with my own kids. I'm in heaven. There will be swim meets this summer, birthday celebrations, lots of family dinners and much more.

With just about a month left in this school year, we're already planning on a big summer. For the first time in 31 years, I'm going to be home. I was a stay-at-home mom until my oldest was 12 and my youngest was 3, and here I am nowadays a stay-at-home grandmother with my oldest grandchild 9 and the youngest 3. My life is circling back around to a lifestyle that is comforting to me.

A lot has happened in those 31 years. I've lost my only sibling, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. But I'm here, thankfully surrounded by a loving family and, very importantly, grandchildren.

Forget Botox, plastic surgery or whatever it is some people are doing to look young these days. With three grandchildren in my life, I'm getting a daily dip in the Fountain of Youth.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com.

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