Grandparents’ Day creates mixed feelings, brings back old memories

It was Grandparents’ Day Friday at the downtown towers – but not all residents have grandchildren, and not all those who do got to see them.

So like Christmas morning in an empty-nest home, the event brought back wistful memories for some.

“We had our fun in 1986,” said Louanne Ellingsworth, resident-on-call at Green Avenue Tower, who has a son but no grandchildren. “I miss holding little kids.”

When kids are small, especially during the “terrible twos,” you want them to grow up, she said.

But events like Friday’s, or holding a baby in church like she and her husband did recently, “brings you back,” Ellingsworth said.

Perhaps surprisingly for someone in her mood, Ellingsworth said that if she were to raise her son again, she’d have been stricter.

She worried then too much about “being the good guy” – being a friend to her son, she said.

She probably spoiled him, Ellingsworth admitted – although he’s a successful professional in eastern Pennsylvania, and she’s proud of him, she said.

Ellingsworth’s friend, Elizabeth Arsenault, also of Green Avenue Tower, is a mother of 10 and grandmother of 23.

But the grandkids are scattered all over the country, as far as Alaska, she said.

The closest family lives in Virginia.

None came Friday.

That makes it “kinda hard,” Arsenault said.

Theirs was a military family, and the kids had to abide by the rules of the bases they lived on.

That may have helped them turned out well, according to Arsenault.

None ever got into trouble, as far as she knows, she said.

Among them are four daughters who became nurses, a son retired from government service, a son in the military and two sons retired from the military, she said.

The touch of sadness didn’t keep Ellingsworth and Arsenault from participating Friday – Ellingsworth at the face-painting gazebo and Arsenault as a seller of door prize tickets.

The door prize tickets are the only things that cost money at the annual event, said Francis Booterbaugh, president of the Green Avenue Towers Residents Organization. The money raised goes to rent equipment that helps make the event memorable – like the bounce house for the kids, he said. The event is not only for residents and their relatives.

“We get people who don’t belong,” Booterbaugh said. “We don’t care.”

Most residents have grandchildren, he said.

He has 15, including those in families living in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Arizona.

He also has a couple in Altoona but wasn’t sure if they were coming.

Absenteeism wasn’t a problem for tower resident Janee Montgomery, who was expecting three of her 22 grandchildren to come.

Neither was it a problem for the family of resident Edna Yeager.

She was in the company of her daughter, Debbie Korter, granddaughter, Dena Renney, and great-granddaughters Teagan, 6, and Brylee, 2 – three generations of descendants.

“It’s nice,” Yeager said of the event. “Clean fun.”

Korter called the event a “nice idea.”

Asked what she had to say, Teagan accused Brylee of throwing snow cone juice on her foot.

When a reporter looked at her for input, Brylee just sucked her snow cone straw, inclined her head against her mother’s shoulder and maintained eye contact.

“Kids get to have a good time,” Montgomery said.