By Jennie Montgomery


We have been bona fide empty nesters for about three months now. Zack moved to Kennesaw for his job and both girls are away at college. What a change!

I have been pleasantly surprised by the ease with which we have adjusted to having all the kids out of the house—we aren’t staring at the walls, our lives are as busy and engaged at always—I just get to sleep in now!

The most noticeable difference in not having the kids around happened on Scott’s birthday. I decorated the dining room table the night before his big day… two places set in a festive display at the end of our big dining room table. Two lonely little place settings!

We were going to have this tiny birthday celebration at home, just us, but my Myrtle Beach cousin called and really threw a wrench into my plans.

She and her husband were going to be passing through Augusta in a few hours and wanted to meet us for a quick dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in ages so I agreed to meet them at Olive Garden—thinking to myself that the birthday dinner for two could wait another day.

We got to the restaurant first and were sitting in the bar waiting on a table. Scott was telling me about the folks he’d heard from on his birthday—“everybody but Maddy,” he shrugged. Our Maddy-in-the-Middle—the one with the huge heart who always does for others—didn’t call him or send a card.

“Did you check all your Facebook birthday wishes?” I asked.

“Twice,” he said. “Not even an HBD Dad.”

At that EXACT moment I turned my head toward the doorway and saw our son Zack walking into the restaurant. Before I could stand up I saw Maddy right behind him, with Sky Baby bringing up the rear. These three kids were standing in Olive Garden in Augusta? And WE happened to be there too! Before we had finished hugging each other I was waving my arms and telling them, “Y’all aren’t going to believe this, but we are meeting Denise and Buster here for dinner! You’ll get to see them, too!”

Maddy was grinning and shaking her head: “Silly Mommy! There’s no Denise tonight—she was the bait! We wanted to surprise Dad for his birthday so she made up that story to get you here!”

Those kids came from Greensboro, N.C., Kennesaw and Young Harris, Ga., to give their Dad a PRICELESS birthday gift…their presence for presents.

P.S. As for that empty nest thing? I left their beds unmade for week after they spent that night with us—seeing their rumpled bedsheets each morning made me feel like they were home.

This article appears in the November 2015 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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