Retirement and Community

“Grandma’s Upstairs not in the Basement” by Bev Scott

By July 7, 2011 2 Comments

In our house, Grandma is upstairs not in the basement, as suggested in a recent piece “Grandma’s in the Basement (and Junior’s in the Attic) by Hanna Rosin, senior editor of the Atlantic.  I live with my partner on the second floor or our 2-flat San Francisco, Victorian.  My daughter and her family live on the first floor.

When she was in high school and announced that she wanted to live downstairs, we dismissed it as wishful thinking.  After returning from college and a couple of stints at home she was out on her own for several years.  Then she decided to go graduate school and to choose her mate.  After their marriage, she said, when we come back from grad school, we would like to live downstairs.  Again, I dismissed it, knowing that plans change when job offers come along.  But, I was wrong.  Both my daughter and son-in-law wanted to be in San Francisco so they moved in 11 years ago.

The Atlantic Monthly article, mentioned above, references  census data showing that about 13 percent of the 25 to 34 year-olds live with their parents; and a recent Pew Center report, chronicles the trend of Americans living in multi-generational households—the largest share since the 1950s.  (Link to article) By census standards we are not a multi-generational family since we have two units.  But our lives are very interconnected and we benefit from many of the advantages of multi-generational- family households.

With Grandma and G.C. (my partner’s nickname) upstairs, it is easy for the boys to come upstairs to play or just to visit.  My daughter and son-in-law are very appreciative of the childcare help we provide, including chauffer duty, walking the boys to school and evening babysitting (including “monitor sitting” after the boys are in bed.  We benefit from sharing meals and help with outside maintenance responsibilities.    We have the good fortune to have daily interaction with our grandchildren, their energy and enthusiasm keeping us young at heart.  These connections to family are so important according to the research in helping us in our 3rd Act to be healthy, happy and live a satisfying life.

For our grandsons, it is a normal way of life, although they realize that their friends aren’t as lucky to have grandparents so closely involved in their lives. Their friends at school know me and say hi on the street.  It seems so normal to them, the six year old announced recently, that when we died his mom and dad would have to move upstairs, because he and his brother wanted to live on the first floor when they grew up.    Hopefully that will be a long time from now.

Do you have fun “Grandma” stories to share?  I would love to hear about them.


  • Esther says:

    Dear Bev,
    Congrats on such a fun and fabulous blog on multi-generational families. I too, lived upstairs from my grandmother and right next door to two beloved aunts. My life has been so enriched by these womens’ involvement in my life as I know your children and their children have from you and G.C.

  • Bev says:

    Thank you for your comment. As much as your life was enriched by your grandmother and beloved aunts, I know from my own experience that my life is so enriched by living so close to my grandsons and being such an intimate part of their daily lives.

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