2018-07-19 / Views

‘Grandmother’ sounds right at a ‘certain age’

A column by Amy Hubbell

We must be of a certain age.

I’m talking about three Enterprise staff members who will add “grand” before their name as “parents” within a six-week period this fall — all for the first time.

Joe and I are expecting a grandchild around Nov. 8. Our son, Tim, and daughter-in-law, Hannah, are prospective parents.

Print manager Ken Lorincz and his wife, Kim, are expecting a grandchild in late November. And Pat Varley, a member of our composition team, is preparing a nursery in his home for his own grandchild, who is due to arrive in early December.

Not to mention, pressman Jeff Lingaur and his wife, Sheila, who became first-time grandparents March 18 with the birth of Astrid.

The child-bearing run bucks a national trend as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, which put U.S. fertility at a 40-year low. That includes the number of births per 1,000 and the “lifetime average forecast” for fertility.

The births also fly in the face of county demographics. The U.S. Census Bureau figures for Leelanau County from July 2017 place the population age 5 and under at 4.2 percent. The number over age 65 came in at 29.9 percent.

Indeed, Leelanau County is pretty gray and is getting grayer with each passing year. You need only to look at last week’s Diversions section of the Enterprise to see examples. One story was about two sets of grandparents who host grandpa and grandma “camps” each summer.

The cost of single-family housing is being driven up to the point that in general, most young families can’t afford to live here.

The trend could impact the future of our schools, which out of necessity have already embraced the “cooperative” concept to participate competitively in athletics.

Two of our three soon-to-be grandparents live in the county and their grandchildren will too.

Tim and Hannah moved into a house in one of the wooded subdivisions near SugarLoaf at the beginning of the month.

The home, previously used seasonally, has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Plenty of space for a small family.

There was a bit of a bidding war for the “affordable” home, which was listed for under $200,000. They’re scarce as hen’s teeth in Leelanau County. Taking a page from a former colleague, on behalf of my son and his little family I went to work and wrote a letter to accompany their offer.

The letter spoke of Tim’s experience growing up in the land of delight. Summer days at the beach, watching sunsets over Good Harbor Bay, and visiting other parts of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore were among the many activities the newlyweds shared during their courtship.

It also spoke of a county-wide community that rallies whenever there’s someone in need and expressed Tim and Hannah’s desire to raise their child here, where Tim grew up, and where they would be close to grandparents.

The letter acknowledged that homes like this are often snatched up by people for whom a view of the bay was not half their pay, and are occupied seasonally, effectively taking more homes out of an already tight market.

I figured the letter couldn’t hurt. And it didn’t.

The Realtor for the seller said in the tight bidding war the letter put their offer over the top. The closing was the morning of June 29; Tim and Hannah moved in that same weekend.

Sure there were other — more affordable — homes for sale in Grand Traverse and Benzie counties. Some of these would have been closer to Hannah’s parents in the Kingsley area.

However, it’s not too far for grandma Niergarth.

I’m beyond thrilled.

A number of other county grandparents have said how fortunate Joe and I are to have our son and his family just 1.5 miles from our home in Centerville Township.

We are of a certain age. And I think I’m going to like it.

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