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Fledgling leaves behind parents in an empty nest

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I found this folded-up letter addressed to Steve and me sitting on the unfolded clothes in the laundry basket in my youngest daughter’s room.

She must be anticipating the changes occurring in our home as her two older sisters (Aly and Chloe) graduated from college in December, and Chloe is getting married in two weeks and moving to St. Louis to attend chiropractic school. Phoebe will be flying the coop in August as a freshman in college.

Dear Janet and Steve,

I had hoped to sit you both down and have a good eye-to-eye talk before we separated and you started your big journey of growth. I know you are both very busy in all your activities, so this note will have to suffice for now.

You are in a transitional phase of life right now, with things changing rapidly — with no guidebook for these kinds of things. I want you both to know that I am here for you. My sisters and I are very excited for what is to come for you two. I’m so proud of the people you’ve become. I have loved watching you grow up these last 17 years. You’ve come so far. I love seeing the impact you’ve begun to have on others’ lives, and I’d even say you’ve even impacted me.

I’ll never forget the time when you taught me how to walk, or the day I said my first word. I’m so glad I got to share those moments with you. I hope that as you begin your new phase of life that you won’t hesitate to call me if you need anything. I know it’s hard to believe, but even kids get lonely sometimes. You may think we have all the answers to life, but it’s not always true. To get you through without having to call every day, here are a couple of things that may help:

Send care packages. The more frequent, the better. Weekly, if you must. It will help you feel as though you’re connected and helping.

Don’t mess with my room. You can turn Chloe’s room into a workout room or craft area — but my room is off limits to any changes.

If you come to visit me at college, don’t scream when you see me, and don’t show too much excitement. Be cool, calm and collected. Wear old-people clothes. Do not be “hip.” It will help you be able to leave without feeling guilt for ruining my reputation.

Schedule play dates. I don’t want you getting lonely, and as I can’t always be there for you, you should venture out and make new friends. I know you’ve already got some like those nice Browns and Longs, but please try to steer clear of negative influences like your sisters Leta, Debbie and Jerri.

Just always remember that I love

you (and so do those other two girls).


Your third–born daughter (but first in your heart)


Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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