It sure was quiet

Father David Epps's picture

It was a quiet Saturday night for the first time in nearly nine months.

In early July of last year, my son’s home burned. He, his wife, and the children escaped the blaze in the early hours of the morning, but, in spite of the fact that firefighters were on the scene immediately, most of what they owned was lost.

While their house has been rebuilt, they have lived with us.

Cindy and I have, for the most part, been “empty nesters” for a number of years. Our youngest son left home at 18 to join the Air Force. He is 27 now. Suddenly, we would have two adults and five children, all under the age of 12, living with us.

For the most part, things were surprisingly easy. There were moments, of course, but there were tremendous benefits, too.

My not having either sisters or daughters, females have been pretty much a mystery to me. Being married nearly 37 years has not helped me much in that area.

Now, of the nine grandchildren (and one on the way), six are girls (seven, if you count the little one making her debut this summer).

For nine months, three of them lived with me. It was an opportunity to learn.

Girls are different. They go though more towels and change clothes more often that I could have possibly imagined. Boys, on the other hand, would wear the same set of clothes until they rotted off and would never bathe unless reminded. Boys are not a mystery to me.

Girls show affection with hugs and smiles. Boys show affection by punching, mocking, and taunting the person they like.

When boys don’t get their way, they huff and puff, argue, and sulk. Girls — well, girls are drama queens.

I used to think that girls learned to be dramatic around age 12. I now realize that the trait is genetic.

Even the little 2-year-old can out-stare, out-scream, and out-perform (in a dramatic fashion) any boy twice her age.

Girls will come and sit on your lap and cuddle for no reason at all. Boys will give you a hug if their friends aren’t around — maybe. Girls do tend to cry more and over less, but they can stop the tears on command, especially if they get their way.

Neither boys nor girls know how to turn off the lights, and it takes months to get them to the place where they will automatically close the front and back doors so that the de-clawed cats don’t escape into a hostile outside world.

Both boys and girls are loud, especially if they are arguing with their siblings.

Then there is the matter of bedtime. Boys will, if left unattended, watch television or play computer games until the wee hours while little sisters will lie in the bed and talk about everything and nothing until they finally fall asleep.

Neither gender is excited about doing home work, I discovered.

I learned about “Sponge Bob Square Pants,” easily the most irritating cartoon character ever. I discovered that hardly anyone watches “Barney” anymore, at least in my brood.

I re-learned that children ask questions continually, are easily bored, and have unbounded energy.

And they are noisy. They are like the Energizer Bunny on mega-doses of caffeine.

So, last Saturday, after they moved back into their own home, it was quiet. So quiet, in fact, I couldn’t sleep.

I got out of bed and bumped into something (because for the first time in nine months, all the lights were off) and wandered though the still, eerily-silent house.

I went into bedrooms with perfectly made beds where, before, little bundles were gathered under the covers.

There were no sippy cups out in the kitchen, no toys in the living room, no clothes on the floor, no sound of quiet breathing coming from each bedroom. Just the sound of the clock and the ceiling fan.

Sunday at church, several people said, “I bet you sure are glad to have your house back, aren’t you?”

“Well,” I replied, “it certainly was quiet last night.”

It’s been like that for the last several nights. No children rushing around taking showers, getting ready for school; no kids saying, “Hey, Papa!” No lights left on, no doors left open — but no hugs, no smiles, no kisses.

There’s no sibling fighting, but there’s no sibling laughter either.

It sure is quiet. Even the cats are finding it hard to sleep.

[Father David Epps is the founding pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277, between Peachtree City and Newnan, and serves as a bishop to Georgia and Tennessee. Services are held Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. Fr. Epps is also the vicar of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at The church has a website at]

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