Empty Nesters and Mass Murders

So to start, having no kids in the house is mostly good and partly bad. It’s good because stuff stays CLEAN. Tim and I are tidy people. We clean up the kitchen after dinner, including wiping the counters and hand-washing pots and pans. I say “we” but it’s usually me because the rule is whoever doesn’t cook cleans it up, which is always me because I don’t cook. If I’m alone I have a bowl of soup are and a grilled cheese sandwich or something frozen. Or I go to Jimmy Johns. Tim likes to cook and also, he corrected me one too many times in the kitchen and I said, “Fine, you cook,” and it actually worked. Anyway, we tidy up the living room before bed, we make our bed in the morning etc. Apparently this isn’t the norm, if backgrounds on TikTok and Twitter photos are any measure.

My children were slobs and did not seem to understand that dishes didn’t belong in the sink if there was a dishwasher there so I always had to nag them. Elliot lived mostly with his dad through high school, so I’m talking about Holly here, so I should just say “she.” Her room was a mess, but I don’t care about that. It’s not my room. But there were always shoes and backpacks and dishes and 1,000 metal drink bottles and wadded up blankets. Anyway. Not having a kid at home means cleanliness. We also have a cleaning lady, full disclosure. We’re tidy but I don’t mop floors or clean ovens or any of that shit.

Another nice thing about no kids is we can eat whatever we want without complaints. Holly didn’t like a lot of foods we did and though there were times when we would just say, “you eat what is served or you eat what you make,” she usually ate what we served, but bitched up a storm about it. I also REALLY enjoy not having to deal with school. I don’t like volunteering, or handing over money for fundraisers, or working the concession stand or any of that shit. Holly never struggled academically or got in trouble, but still.

The bad parts: I really enjoyed having activities to attend, like cheer competitions and choir and orchestra concerts and theater things and photos for school dances and that stuff. It really filled our weekends, and Tim and I spent a lot of time together. Holly and I are very close as well, and when she left, I really felt bad. I don’t know if Elliot is reading this, but I mourned you leaving my house too, it was just at a different time and different circumstances. In fact, when I used to drive to work and I’d see kids walking to school and such, I would tear up and wish like crazy that I could have that with you instead of hearing about it after the fact from you and your dad. No guilt, these were choices we all made.

When Holly left, for a few days I felt like someone died. But then she came home all the time since she goes to school 45 minutes away and it got better.

Tim and I start camping in the spring and it’s nice to not have to consider schedules other than ours. Anyway, I guess my point is that it’s good and bad, but at the end of the day it just IS and you get used to it, or you may look over at your spouse and go, “Hm, I didn’t notice I dislike them.” That didn’t happen to us.

Okay, on to the mass murderer. For years and years, our next door neighbors were the Hursts, and we knew them very well, like you do when you’ve been neighbors for like 30 years. At some point after I had moved out, the Hursts had to sell their house to pay for a lawyer for their no good son who was in trouble with drugs or guns or something (this was a really nice neighborhood! I don’t know wtf happened!) and this dude named Jim Garner bought it. He was separated from his wife and three children (who were living with her parents) because of something, I think he lied about money and owed debts that the wife didn’t know about, who knows, I’ll link an article so we can all know. Anyway, my mom said he was an okay guy, very quiet, not very friendly. But! They talked because his wife was the daughter of the piano teacher I had in high school (before I quit against everyone’s wishes because she expected me to actually practice and work hard and all that. ) Anyway, the night before this swindle or extortion or whatever he had done was going to come out, his wife, her mom (piano teacher) and her dad all mysteriously were shot in their beds in a townhome they owned in Colorado. A newborn child was in the bed with his wife (4 weeks old!) and was grazed by a bullet but lived. He called 911 at some point, and played the innocent victim but EVERYONE knew he did it. But a jury acquitted him for whatever reason (they sent a note to the judge saying they were deadlocked one day and then the next day they voted to acquit). Meanwhile, his house next to my parents just sat there. I don’t know whatever happened to it, because my parents moved away shortly after that.

The most IMPORTANT part of this story is that this whole event caused me to email Ann Rule and tell her about it, because she had written a book about another murder in the town where I lived and I thought she might want to write a book about this one. Remember back in the 90s when you would just email famous people like a dummy? But she emailed me back!! It was fantastic. It was like 28 years ago and I still have that email saved in my gmail account.

4 comments

  1. I cannot WAIT to be done with school shit and especially all of the driving, which is endless in TX. We diverge on the activities however HAVE I MENTIONED THAT CLUB SOCCER IS MY VILLIAN ORIGIN STORY. Games stress me out even though I’m the least competitive person on earth because I hate all of the other parents and also the girls are now old enough to call each other bitches and cheap shot each other when the refs aren’t looking and so on. GAH. I do spend a lot of time with my kid though, especially since her dad was banned from practices and games a few years ago (he’s back now lol) so I had to do EVERYTHING even though HE is the gd soccer player to begin with.

    Is Ann Rule still alive? In the time it took me to type that I could have googled it. Alas. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every book she wrote; my favorite was the one about the mom who shot her kids but one of them lived and had to testify against her. ACK.

  2. Ditto: my husband cooks, I clean up. I swear to God, though, he uses pots and things I haven’t personally had a use for since my bridal shower. FYI, I’ve been adding “like Betty’s” to the end of every sentence (in my head; I’m not certifiable)(yet) since your earlier post. It’s my new fortune cookie “in bed” or “between the sheets” thing.

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