Have you ever noticed that your kids grow up, but never really move out?

Now, in breaking down five offices and a rented, Springfield house, I have brought items home so I can integrate them into the existent household. And, lo and behold, my son’s rooms are pretty much just the way he left them years ago when he went off to the Army and married.

I do recall in clearing out my parents’ home, after they passed away; there was a basement full of my belongings, which never quite found their way to my house. I found my old, beloved teddy bear, a chemistry set with the frog I preserved still in it, numerous games and miscellaneous other items from long ago.

And so, I should not have been surprised that I had intact “Pepi Rooms,” not to mention an attic full of his model train layout, airplane and rocket ship models, a collection of worldwide Coca Cola bottles and what seemingly are his papers from just about every year he attended school.

Being in the Army, he and my daughter-in-law, Christina, move every two years. Their garage is already so full of unopened boxes trucked around the U.S. and various military bases that their cars never see the interior of the garage. He says he cannot take what he has left behind, and suggests that it would be a great help to them if I continued to hold onto his “stuff” until he and Christina were settled and available to take it.

However, I trust that even if he were not in the Army, I would still have his “stuff” as stuff is a parent’s loving testament of wonderful years watching a child grow up. It all has a memory attached to it.

I must admit, however, that memories notwithstanding, it is getting a bit crowded in the house. I doubt that I am keeping even 1 percent of things generated in 26 years of public service. It did not seem like much to me as we packed it up; however, it is obviously more than I thought. There are just no more available walls to hold the paintings, posters and pictures which have moved in. Whoever buys this house after me will find its walls looking like Swiss cheese from all the nail holes.

The dining room now looks like a museum, what with busts of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin, Reagan, Grant and even some foreigners like Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc and Julius Caesar. When next a local organization wants to do a housewalk, they might consider my house, because it is chock full of just about everything in its Early Reign of Terror mode. Nothing fits, everything fits.

Other than trying to get moved out of the Thompson Center and the state capital, two other Springfield buildings, the North Riverside political office and a Springfield house, the question most put to me is what I am going to do next?

The only plans, for the moment, are to get my staff hired elsewhere, because, when the new broom comes in, it sweeps clean. It is troublesome to me that my very good staff, so constituent-oriented, so good hearted, will be cast to the winds. And so, if anyone has any job opportunities out there for my staff, I would be most interested in hearing from them.

And so, from the Topinka clan to all of you, we hope you had a most Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year-from Judy, Maj. Joe (Pepi), Christina, the pooches (Molly McDoo the scottie and Peggy Sue the beagle) and the kids’ three cats: Fluffy, Alex and Baby Girl.