Then I held him: How 20 minutes away became upstairs-downstairs

After my recent piece about our living arrangement in the Boston Globe, I heard from a number of people considering similar moves. Kathleen Shine Cain and her husband, Jim, will be joining their daughter and family in the vertical equivalent of across-the-hall living. With some of the schlepping and unpacking already underway, Kathy took a moment to tell the first installment of their story here:

People often toss around terms like “life-changing” to describe significant experiences. But, oh, this was life changing. It was the evening of February 19, 2012, and my husband, Jim, and I were in the Birthing Suite at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The “him” was Declan Van Hagen Arnold, to whom our daughter (our only child) had given birth several hours before.

Unlike many friends in our age group, I hadn’t been in any rush to have grandchildren. Shannon and Ryan had lived in Somerville, just outside Boston, and we enjoyed traveling down from our New Hampshire home on weekends, attending urban festivals, dining out, and visiting pubs. Had they never decided to have children, I think I would have been fine with that—life was good. When they announced Shannon’s pregnancy in June 2011, I was excited—but more for them than for me. As the months wore on and I became accustomed to the idea of having a grandson, I was glad that we’d moved to North Andover and they’d moved to Wakefield: We were only twenty minutes away and would be able to spend lots of time with the new family. Continue reading

From full house to empty nest redux

Family Scanlan in 2013

A guest post from Chip Scanlan:

For 15 years, my family was blessed to live in a beach house that sat 84 steps from the pearly sands and azure waves of the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s West Coast. It was a roomy Colonial, with four bedrooms and three baths, more than enough space to raise our three daughters.

But as children do, they grew up and out. One married and headed west to Montana with her new husband; her twin moved to Richmond, Va. to pursue a career in musical theatre, while our eldest decamped close enough to return weekly to do her laundry.  A story familiar to Baby Boomers like Kathy and me unfolded. By 2011, we found ourselves rattling around in a beloved home that was too big for us and too expensive to maintain. A For Sale sign sprouted in the front yard and after a year waiting for a buyer and looking for a replacement, we sold the house and Kathy found a bargain replacement: a fixer-upper with 3 BR, 1.5 B and 1,000 fewer square feet in a quiet, leafy neighborhood ten miles west of the beaches in the city of St. Petersburg. We moved in while a small army of workers replaced the roof, electric, AC, restored the original hardwood floors, IKEAd the galley kitchen, then added a shower to the downstairs half bath and, finally, expanded a tiny living room by glassing in our front screened porch. With a Miniature Schnauzer rescue named Leo for company, we were cozy, but our empty nest was quiet, very quiet, too quiet. Continue reading