Grand Parenting

Relocation creates more quality time

Roger and Nancy Schuh arrived in Cary this past January with boxes in tow. The reasons?
Kimberly, Allison and Connor of Apex, aka the grandkids.

“The first weekend we were here, we went to their basketball, soccer and hockey games, all before unpacking our boxes,” said Nancy. “The boxes could wait.”

That grandparents will do the darnedest things for the kids is a well-known fact. For the Schuhs, married 55 years, the decision came down to driving 100 miles back home to Winston-Salem after attending their grandchildren’s athletic and music events, or staying over, or moving.

“We finally thought, ‘We can stay here and they’ll grow up and we’ll miss it, or we can move,’” Roger said. “So we decided to spend these years in Cary with them.”

What’s been gained by Grandma and Grandpa’s move to the SearStone community? Ask the kids.

The Schuhs’ home is full of mementos from the grandkids; living closer to them makes it easier to continue family traditions.

“It’s so much better!” said Allison, 14, who plays basketball and soccer, and flute in her school band. She’s known for leaving thank-you notes on her pillow after she sleeps over, and dubbing her grandfather “cool and funny” in his latest birthday card. 

“They can take us to practice and come to our games, and they’re always here to support us. And in high school I’ll be playing golf, like Grandpa, so I’m glad he’s close now,” she said.

Kimberly, 16, a basketball star and French horn player, enjoys the talks she has with her grandparents, and looking at old photos. As the eldest grandchild — there are two more, Alex and Andrew in Virginia, ages 9 and 11 — she has a few extra memories of family activities, many of them recorded in her grandmother’s log books along with the children’s signed and dated drawings.

“Libraries, museums, concerts, the pumpkin patch — I’ve kept a book for each of them,” Nancy said. “We used to think we’d never get out of the library, and they’d check out so many books they could hardly carry them, but they love reading and it’s something they can take with them through life. It’s the same with music.”

Stepping stones made by all five of their grandchildren welcome visitors to the Schuhs, including one declaring that Grandpa Rocks!

Roger has taught woodworking skills to each grandchild, evolving to include saws and drill press. The girls’ tools sport flowers, and will likely accompany them to college one day.

He still donates his skills to benefit schools for the handicapped in Winston-Salem, but he’s famous with the children for making things like Allison’s lap desk, and the “Tony Stewart two-seater race car” Kimberly calls his most famous project — which accidentally resulted in Allison’s broken ankle.

Other family traditions now easier to keep include annual Christmas recitals that began with Grandpa’s old trumpet, and baking butter cookies with sprinkles alongside Grandma.

“She gives me a special signal when I make my free throws,” Kimberly added with a smile. “I like having them here to watch me grow up.”

They even have a homemade board game titled Memory Lane, Schuh Edition. Aside from being fun, it teaches the kids about their family, Roger says, and imparting knowledge is important. 

Memory Lane, Schuh Edition is a handmade game that helps the family share their heritage with fun facts on everyone, including the Schuhs’ grandsons Alex and Andrew, who live in Virginia.

“When they were really young we gave them money, and took them to the bank to show them that when you save money, you get something in return. Back then the return was a lollipop. Now we give them a few shares of stock for their birthdays and Christmas, things like Disney, Starbucks, McDonald’s. They see the growth, and are learning that saving money really does get them something.”

“Roger makes cute certificates that show the stocks’ increase in value,” Nancy said. “Now they want to go to McDonald’s so their stocks will go up!

“Our grandchildren have been a big part of our life, and now that we’re here in Cary it’s easier,” she added. “The love of your family is the greatest blessing, and we are so blessed.”

Connor, 10, a soccer, hockey and saxophone player, plus a Math Olympian, recites his list of reasons to be glad his grandparents have moved to Cary: Walking to Bojangles and building things with Grandpa, playing Michigan rummy, and sleeping over.

With two sisters at home, he has one more: “I can come here instead of going shopping!”

Good Times

Gene and Betty Doyle lived in Cary then moved to Topsail Beach, but the lure of the grandchildren brought them back home.

Gene and Betty Doyle are glad to be back in Cary for more quality time with granddaughters Morgan, left, and Mollie. Their best times are “every time,” Betty says. “We just love being able to be with them.”

Now they see Morgan, 14, and Mollie, 9, every weekend for shared meals and sporting events like UNC basketball games, and are able to attend grandparents’ days and other events at their Durham school. 

“The thing I enjoy most is all their sports activities — soccer, basketball, gymnastics, swimming. We find out what they’re doing, and go!” said Gene. 

When they were younger, Mollie said, the girls put on plays and performed “for tips!” When they played school, Morgan was always the teacher, and art the subject. Gene, dubbed by the children as “Opa,” would routinely crash the classroom with fun antics.

Nowadays, Mollie has taught herself to play the keyboard and composed her own song for them, and Morgan appreciates that Gene is a great cheerleader yet doesn’t embarrass her on the field.

Betty, aka Oma, said, “I’ve learned to have a good time, and laugh over things that don’t go right. I’m less strict as a grandparent, and everything doesn’t have to be perfect.”

“We accidentally made a fire with popcorn!” piped Mollie, to illustrate the point.

Their granddaughters have dubbed the Doyles ‘Oma’ and ‘Opa,’ the German names for grandparents.  

After years of traveling to visit, the girls love having their Oma and Opa near. They lend their expertise with their grandparents’ iPads and phones, shop for clothes together, and lunch at places like PDQ and CiCi’s Pizza, or Mollie’s favorite, the SearStone dining room.

They enjoy milkshake outings, and snacking on treats like strawberries dusted with powdered sugar or homemade chocolate-covered cherries.

“We get more candy now,” said Mollie. “And I teach Oma how to make friendship bracelets.”

“It’s fun to hang out with them; we can be pretty silly,” Morgan added. For example, the mention of knitting causes her, and Betty, to grimace.

“We get started, but instead of a scarf it usually turns into a nice bookmark!” Morgan joked. The family also does art projects (they’ve attended pottery camps in Brevard), and plays cards and shuffleboard.

Morgan and Gene are the competitive ones.

“I like switching up teams,” Morgan said. “I like kids versus grandparents!” added her sister.

Both girls are avid readers; Morgan shares her favorite fiction with Betty so they can read and discuss it, a glimpse into their special bond.

The two hold hands as Betty shares what she hopes to impart to her granddaughters: To be good students. To be good to other people, and show respect. To cook; Morgan’s current specialty is whipped cream made by hand, instead of with the mixer.

The bottom line is that they’re all friends. So what are their best times together?

Gene and Betty smile.

“Every time,” Betty said. “We just love being able to be with them.”

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