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Love by the generations

Created date

August 25th, 2009

[caption id="attachment_2263" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Nancy Copple, who had conceded to the idea that she was only going to have grandsons, celebrates her five granddaughters with an annual tea party, now in its sixteenth year."]... Grandparents have always had a special bond with their grandchildren. Some spend quality time creating memories while others help raise the next generation of their families. Here s just a sampling of how residents at two Erickson communities are making a difference in their grandchildren s lives.

Mumsie s annual tea party

Nancy Copple, resident ofMaris Grove, has ten grandchildren. As the first five were born, she was content with the fact that she was going to have grandsons. Then the sixth grandchild appeared a girl and the girls just kept coming. When her first granddaughter was 5 years old and her second was 3 and a half, Copple wanted to create a tradition that would be carried over year after year and passed down through the generations. Her granddaughters had plastic tea sets, but Copple decided they were old enough to handle real china. Hence, Mumsie s Annual Tea Party, now in its sixteenth year. All five of Copple s granddaughters look forward to the fancy summer event. There s Rachel (20), Janet (18), Lauren (16), Sally (15), and Jenna (14). The tea party takes place at Copple s seashore house in Ocean City, N.J., because she loves the porches. And though fun-filled, the event is not without its rules. Weather permitting, it always takes place outside. No matter how steamy the day, it s hot tea, not iced, that is drunk. (Up until two years ago, however, some of the girls were still drinking Juicy Juice.) No boys are allowed. One must be at least three years old, invited to attend, and dressed in her fanciest attire. Copple, or Mumsie as all her grandchildren affectionately call her, even has a fancy tea-party-exclusive hat that looks like it s from the 1890s. The spread is elegant, with lace tablecloths, linen napkins, and real china. It s very formal, Copple says. The sandwiches started out as peanut butter and jelly and have evolved to cucumber and watercress, though they re still cut out into animal shapes like pigs and lambs. Copple used to get up at 5 a.m. to prepare everything, but now her granddaughters have taken over making the sandwiches. Dessert is a teapot filled with chocolate pudding, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a flower. Two of my granddaughters, my daughter, and I all had high tea at the exclusive Claridge s in London last year, and the girls didn t think the tea was as fancy as our parties! Copple says. Even though it s difficult to coordinate a day when she can get everyone together because of hectic schedules, the tea party is a wonderful tradition that she hopes the girls will pass on to their children and grandchildren. I feel like we re creating memories, Copple says, and celebrating family.

Pioneer grandparents

Russ and Terry Heaton moved to Ann s Choice when it was first built six years ago. They had a big house with a lot of land that was getting too tedious to maintain. They didn t have any grandchildren, and their son and daughter-in-law were creating their own life together. Then three years ago, little Raymond the Heatons first grandson was born. They wanted to be involved with their grandson s life, so they started watching him when he was just three months old. Every Wednesday, their son would drop off Raymond at 8 a.m. and pick him up at 5 p.m. That schedule has continued to this day and includes the Heatons second grandson, Samuel, who is just one year old. Mrs. Heaton giggles as she says, Most folks here have great-grandchildren, and we re just starting with our grandchildren. Both Raymond and Samuel are tiny legends at Ann s Choice, where residents and staff look forward to Wednesdays when the boys stay with Mom Mom and Pop Pop. When you see a baby, it makes you feel good. So it s nice that seeing the boys regularly spreads joy around campus, Mrs. Heaton says. There are plenty of places for the boys to wander at Ann s Choice, and activities abound to keep them occupied. Mr. Heaton takes Raymond to play golf and see the trains, and he loves going to the fishponds in each neighborhood. At the gazebo, there s room to kick balls around, and Warminster Park is right next to campus. We don t even have to drive to the park we just walk over there, Mrs. Heaton says. And mealtime on campus is a welcome treat. The dining staff is always happy to see the kids. Raymond loves to get his French fries and chocolate milk. Being a part of their grandsons lives is important to Mr. and Mrs. Heaton. They re growing together and learning from each other. Mrs. Heaton s voice swells as she says, The kids keep us younger and keep us moving. We love them so.