An Accidental Grandson: Active Adult

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young boy in kenya related to an active adultWhen Nancy Anderson, a resident of Attleboro Retirement Village in Langhorne, PA, checked her e-mail over a year ago, she was delighted to find that her oldest son and his wife were coming for a visit. She quickly reserved the guest suite for them and sent them a return e-mail with all of the menu choices for dinner that night.

Her son never wrote back. They made arrangements over the phone, but she wondered what had happened to her e-mail.

Meanwhile, the e-mail was slowly making its way to Nairobi, Kenya and the inbox of a 22 year old University of Nairobi student, David Kihara. While e-mailing her son, Mrs. Anderson had left one letter out of the address, sending her message half way around the world. This serendipitous mistake has led to an unlikely friendship.

David’s initial response indicated that he was sure Nancy’s message was misplaced. When Nancy wrote back, she thanked him for clarifying the confusion. She also shared a little about herself, letting David know that she lived in Pennsylvania and that she was 81.

“Hi, Grandy!” was the charming start to David’s next letter. He went on to explain his immediate fascination with Nancy and her “advanced” age: “Maybe I even don’t qualify to be your grandson. I’m only 23 and must appreciate that you are now my oldest friend, because my grandmother is not even 70.”

Nancy was happy to be “Grandy.” She admits, “This relationship has filled a spot.” With three grown children, she was no longer acting as a caregiver, a role that she finds fulfilling. It has been very rewarding for her to lend a hand to someone who really needs her assistance.

David is the second of seven children and his family has faced many challenges, including his father’s loss of a good job and a catastrophic house fire. When Nancy accidentally made his acquaintance, he had managed to get a 50% scholarship but was really struggling to pay for the remainder of his education.

David’s determination, character, and faith motivated Nancy to help him. In the past year, she has helped him purchase his own computer, provided tuition funds and, with the help of her church group, bought his mother a sewing machine.

Through communication with this young man she has come to realize how lucky she is to be a senior in this country. “David is so impressed that I drive my own car and can be so active. People in Africa have much shorter life spans,” she notes. This glimpse of life on another continent makes Nancy appreciate her good health and active lifestyle. She is quick to acknowledge how important moving to a retirement community was towards maintaining her current way of life.

Nancy initially decided to move to Attleboro Retirement Village because of its “excellent location, friendly atmosphere, and the fact that it is a Continuing Care Retirement Community.” She says, “This is the way to live.” She goes on to explain that her apartment is cleaned every week, and every evening she goes down to a dinner that has been prepared for her. This leaves her free to pursue her own interests-including world travel.

It is a good thing she has plenty of time; planning a trip to Africa in your 80s is no small feat. Nancy’s African safari is scheduled for January. While her relationship with David is certainly one of the motivations for her upcoming adventure, it is not the only one. “I can’t wait to see the animals-especially the Giraffes-and I’m really looking forward to meeting the other people in my tour group,” says Mrs. Anderson.

Nancy has decided that now is the time to take an African Safari. She wants to see the birds and animals of Kenya and Tanzania. Most of all, she wants to meet her accidental grandson face to face and hear his voice. She feels that the 16 hour trip to Nairobi will be worth it and feels sure her experiences with the travel group will be rewarding.

Unlike traditional mail, e-mail has no “Return to Sender” option. Most users exercise this option by simply ignoring wayward messages. When David Kihara responded to Nancy’s mistaken e-mail, he returned to the sender an option to start a relationship. Nancy Anderson accepted-adding an accidental grandson to her contact list and her life.

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