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."