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Could you live with three generations under one roof?


Grandparents, parents and children living together in one house is becoming more and more common. For Marion Andrews, it was the answer to a prayer


I


t was interesting to see how people reacted when I


told them of my


plans. “You’re moving in with your daughter and family? Well, say goodbye to peace; you’ll be an on-


site babysitter!” Those of a similar age to my daughter were less outspoken, but it didn’t take too much imagination to read their thoughts as their eyes widened. “Have my mother come to live with me? I don’t think so.” It was my daughter who first floated


the idea. “Mum, you know my business is expanding. My office is too small, so we are thinking of moving. Have you ever considered pooling our resources and buying a house for us, you and my business?” John, my husband, had died very suddenly and unexpectedly about 18 months previously. The rest of the family had moved out and were leading independent lives. They had all been very kind and supportive, but the bottom line was that I was on my own, and lonely. I had never really lived alone before and I hated it. The family house was now not only


too big, it needed maintenance and the garden needed someone to care for it. My husband had been handyman/decorator and gardener before. Now it was down to me. Determined not to be beaten, I tried. But my decorating skills, never very good, didn’t improve and each smudged skirting board reminded me just how


22 October 2015 womanalive


much John would have hated it and how much I missed him. I was better in the garden. Listening to


my favourite songs through my iPod, I would attack the weeds with vigour, but the garden was big and previously John and I worked together. It was one more reminder of what I had lost. I think it seemed obvious to everyone except me that I needed to downsize. Sensible as it was,


for me it was an


emotional nightmare. This house had seen the children grow and develop. There had been Christmases, birthdays, graduations, weddings, first boyfriends, the birth of grandchildren ... the list was extensive. Memories lingered in each corner. How could I just leave it and move to a bungalow with a small garden and two bedrooms? Were big family occasions to be relegated to memory too, as I would be unable to accommodate them? So I had procrastinated. When my daughter dropped her question into the conversation, we were travelling together to a conference in the Lake District. “Think about it, mum,” she’d said. “Don’t answer now. I know it’s a big thing.” To say “I thought about it” was an understatement. I considered every possible aspect. Would moving in with one child cause sibling jealousy? How could I ensure it would not become a financial nightmare if anything happened to me? Family friction regarding finances


and inheritance are the stuff of ‘soaps’ or The Jeremy Kyle Show; could I move and still ensure all my children were treated fairly? Would it work or would my daughter hate living with me? What about my son-in-law? The grandchildren were easier. I had looked after them one day a week since they were tiny and they were a joy. They loved ‘Grandma Days‘ as I did, but if we lived together, would our relationship change? As I prayed through my questions, a memory slipped into my mind. I consider myself to be someone who understands bereavement and loss, both personally


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