Friday, May 05, 2000
Parents can make excellent neighbors
By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Vicky and Don Campbell's house sits high on a hill in rural Campbell County, 20 miles from downtown Cincinnati.
The area six miles southeast of Alexandria feels a bit less like the country now than it did 26 years ago when the Campbells moved here from Blue Ash. These days, a few more houses dot the landscape.
Everyone has a story worth telling. At least, that's the theory. To test it, Tempo is throwing darts at the phone book. When a dart hits a name, a reporter dials the phone number and asks if someone in the home will be interviewed. Stories appear on Fridays.
Still, the Campbells have plenty of room on their hill. Room enough for Vicky's tulips, irises, daisies and a multitude of other flowers that surround the house. And room for other important things.
We bought 25 acres here with thoughts of giving each one of the kids a spot (to live), says Vicky, who is 65. Then when they grew up, one (Joseph) moved to Florida. One (Allen) moved to Grants Lick, because that's where his wife's family is from. Our daughter is the only one who took us up on the offer.
Vicky sighs. I'm glad she's sticking around.
Vicky says she's not disappointed that two of her children live elsewhere. Children have to go their own way when they grow up, she says. As long as they pop in once in a while ... .
But without doubt there is a difference between popping in for visits and sharing the same patch of land.
Diane Sensel is the daughter who stayed. The 35-year-old computer programmer lives on the hill a stone's throw from her parents with her 16-year-old son, Tom.
For as long as Diane can remember, her parents talked about making pieces of the property available to her and her brothers. As a teen, Diane says, the offer sounded awful.
I mean, who wants to live next door to their parents? she says, laughing at the thought.
But you get to the point where you realize, "My parents aren't so bad after all.'
Diane did consider leaving her home on the hill several years ago. Her employer had given her a choice: Relocate to Atlanta, or be laid off.
She saw how upset her parents were at the thought of her moving. She knew she could always find another job. She stayed.
Being close means Diane can give her parents a hand when they need it. Don, a retired United Parcel Service driver, survived a bout with colon cancer 12 years ago, and since then has suffered three minor strokes.
Diane has benefited from the arrangement, too.
I'm a single parent, she says, so (my mother) did a lot of babysitting for me when my son was younger. Now, she drives him to and from work sometimes.
But there is more to all this than the matter of convenience.
Vicky Campbell knows not many grandparents get to watch a grandchild grow up.
She recalls days when she and Tom took long walks in the woods, hot dogs and marshmallows in tow.
When he was little, Tom would unlock his mother's door and run over to grandma's in the morning. He did this often. Even when he was in diapers. Even with snow on the ground.
He still prefers that grandma Vicky cook him breakfast.
I can come over and get eggs and bacon every morning, he says.
Tom is one of Vicky and Don's six grandchildren, but the only one who lives next door.
The others, we don't see near as much of them, Vicky says. When you see each other every day, there builds up a closeness. I don't love the others any less, it's just ... Her voice trails off.
Some things need no further explanation, such as the special relationships that exist on a certain hill in Campbell County.
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