Grandparents: Keeping Grandma and Grandpa Close

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This closeness is vital to Edie, who had a difficult childhood and never knew her grandparents. "There wasn't a lot of laughter in my house growing up, so that's what I really want to give my grandchildren right now. I want them to know that Grandma's fun," she says. That includes treating the kids to ice cream for breakfast one morning a week and keeping up on her knowledge of Disney films so she can quiz her granddaughters on trivia from The Little Mermaid.

Overall, though, Edie hopes that her grandchildren will learn a more powerful lesson from her as they get older. "I want them to know that you can overcome anything with a positive attitude," she says. "My life now is better than I ever dreamed it could be."

A Full House

When Joy Kammerling and David Smith leave for work in the morning, no chorus of complaints from daughters Meret, 4, and Thea Grace, 3, follows them out the door. After all, their live-in babysitter has already been up with them since 6:45 a.m., made their breakfast, and is all ready for a day of fun.

This dream sitter is none other than the girls' grandmother, Dorothy Smith, who has cared for them almost since day one. When Joy and David brought 6-week-old Meret home from Vietnam in 1997, Dorothy quickly offered to take early retirement from her job in Santa Barbara, CA, and move with daughter Apryle to Champaign, IL, to be close to her new granddaughter and help out the new parents.

The gesture came as no surprise to Joy and David, who were thrilled with the idea. "Dorothy is such a devoted, affectionate woman," says Joy. "She and Apryle are a constant help to us."Dorothy was already skilled at the role of doting grandma before she arrived -- when her husband died in 1985, she moved to Santa Barbara to be near her son and his children. But when she turned 60, Dorothy was anxious to retire, and to be a part of the adoption going on in Illinois. She knew David and Joy would need more than just daycare, since their jobs as college history professors required them to work nights and weekends.

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