Grandparents: Keeping Grandma and Grandpa Close

Three inspiring stories of families who have found creative ways for grandparents and grandchildren to remain close.


Grandma's Camp


Edith Mattaboni's friends were mystified when she retired and sold her Long Island, NY, home to move to a bigger house in Milford, PA, two years ago. Why would she and her husband, Bruce McBurney, buy a 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom colonial for just the two of them?

But Edie's daughter-in-law, Suzanne, 37, wasn't surprised at all. She knew the answer: Edie intended to fill the extra space -- and her newfound free time -- with her 10 grandchildren.

"My kids would ask me to babysit, and I was rarely able to say yes because of work," Edie, a former human resources manager, remembers. "I liked my job, but I came to realize that there was more to life than that. I wanted to be there for my family."

"Grandma's Camp," which features a dock for fishing and boating, a swing set, a tree house, and a large, toy-filled playroom, opened for business in April 1999. During the week, Edie often cares for the grandkids who aren't yet in school, then adds her children and school-age grandchildren to the mix on weekends. Rarely does a week go by that one or two of the kids -- who range from 1-year-old Morgan to 11-year-old Nico -- aren't visiting Grandma. A calendar on her basement door keeps track of which family members are coming when, and it's usually filled months in advance.

Edie, 60, and Bruce, 59, originally contemplated opening a bed-and-breakfast upon retirement. But they eventually realized that the business would tie them down, making it difficult to visit family. So they took the next logical step and created a sort of inn for their loved ones.

"It's like a vacation home for everyone," says Suzanne, who visits Edie with her husband, John, 37, and children, Veronica, 6, and Louis, 4, about once a month. "I'll go on the pedal boat with the kids, or we'll just sit on the porch and talk. She's given us such a nice place to be together."

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