IT'S an unusual experience when a loved one flies the nest.
One lifetime they're with you, refusing to sort their laundry and leaving dirty dishes behind where ever they go.
The next they're living the subsidised life of Riley in some far-off, fun-filled outpost while you squander your retirement supporting them.
A harsh audit on the situation, I know, but Herald financial guru Noel Whittaker assures me it's perfectly accurate.
We've recently undergone the separation syndrome and it's triggered all manner of reflections.
Not the least being that the one flying the nest may well have been excreting in it before leaving, metaphorically speaking, given how much tidier the nest now seems.
Confidence remains high, however, that those left behind will be able to restore disorder.
Of course, parting in this manner is a generational bell-ringer that rocks not only your roof but also shakes the collective family tree.
Grandma went positively Morgan Freeman about it. Not that she looks or speaks like Morgan Freeman.
But she can monologue with the greats, particularly on the passage of time.
That's because grandmas are experts in the field, having generally lived long and illustrious lives. Respect G-ma.
And nothing, other than the arrival of a grandchild to the nest, triggers a grandma monologue better than the departure of a grandchild from the nest.
"It seems like only yesterday we were taking her down to the swings to play on the slippery dip and now she's off on the next chapter of her life," Grandma reflected.
Too true grandma, and I note the similarities of this monologue to the one I heard when I left home all those years ago. (Could grandma simply be substituting names? She's had five kids. She's got the skills.)
Not that I'm downplaying the heartfelt sentiment because it is genuine and reciprocated through time.
We remember dumping the kids on grandma back in the day for sweet, blessed, though temporary, relief to get on the sauce for a couple of hours and then paying for it the next day when grandma handed the kids back.
That's when the phrase "good to see them, good to see them go" really took on meaning.
But we were thankful grandma put her hand up to babysit at all, because we'd certainly vowed not to.
It was emphasised at the time that this was the dream and with any luck we'd get to live it. We were sceptical.
I've always looked upon farewells as something to push through, knowing it will be all the sweeter when you catch up again.
Don't know where, don't know when, but as the song goes, I know we'll meet again some sunny day.
In reality, it's usually been some dingy night. A bus/train/plane terminal.
Or in the case of farewells when you leave town for uni, Argyles (formerly Fannys) at 2am, when emotions are running, at best, sloppy.
And to be fair, that was more me.
Because parting is such sweet, slightly hectic sorrow. (Mixed with a few upsides.)
And as you wait for that loved one to emerge from the nightclub, or the police to arrest the guy vomiting on himself outside the nightclub, whatever comes first, you reflect that it used to be pick-ups and drop-offs from school that took up all your time.
Then that morphed into countless after-school activities, and sporting trips and socials and increasingly later night beach party evacuations.
All along you thought one day it would end and you could get on with your life. Ha!
And in that moment of early morning clarity you see the parent trap for what it truly is, self-delusion.
Noel Whittaker, was right. Issues with loved ones never go away. They just get bigger and later and more costly.
And to prove it, instead of a run into town, you'll have to do an M3 dash to Mascot in the morning.
As a result pangs of all descriptions pop up.
Foreign yet familiar, predictable yet surprising, dreaded yet welcome in that some how, some way, after a lifetime together, we are going to get this loved one on that plane before departure within the luggage weight limits even if she keels over under the fatigue of her carry-on case and a week's worth of Bacchanalia.
Everyone goes through it and you just push on.
And if you can't push, you drag her on that plane.
Because to paraphrase grandma "it's good to see 'em and better to see 'em go".
Because if you didn't seem 'em go it would mean they missed the plane and that would be a real bummer because you opted not to get travel insurance.
Ultimately you can't stop people growing up and spreading their wings.
And technically it's illegal to tie them up in the attic.
No matter how much you love them.
Letting go is all part of setting it free.
If it comes back to you, chances are it's a bill they ran up before going, or semester break.