It is said that grandparents are the perfect blend of love, laughter, and happy memories. We spoke to five local residents about the joy they experience being a grandparent whether their grandkids are newborns, nine or 19. It’s clear that this is a role they truly relish. Here is who we interviewed for the story: Jon Cobert, Adina Olan, Bea DeRose, Fran Falk-Ross and Carol Weston.
Jon Cobert: Rock and Roll Chappaqua-Based Grandfather
Longtime Chappaqua residents Jon and his wife Wendy welcomed two granddaughters, Chloe and Hannah, in the past three years. When they were first born, they resided in Washington DC. His granddaughters now moved closer to Ridgefield CT which Jon and Wendy are overjoyed about.
With Chloe who is almost three, Jon enjoys having tea parties, coloring, and playing with Legos. “Hannah just started eating solids so we gave her a piece of chicken wing during the Super Bowl which of course I took a picture of,” he laughs. My wife’s greatest joy is being a grandma- buying them clothes, playing dress up,” he adds.
One of Jon’s proudest moments was when he realized his granddaughter loves loud music. A longtime musician (and legend in his own right) who has played with legends such as John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Dionne Warwick, Jon took Chloe to his studio in the basement and plugged his guitar into the amplifier. “Chloe said, “more loud”, and I thought to myself, “thank goodness, I have a rock and roll granddaughter.”
Adina Olan: Chappaqua Business Owner and Enamored New Grandma
Former Chappaqua resident Adina Olan who owns Breathe Pilates and Yoga Studio on South Greeley Avenue eagerly took on her new role as a grandmother when her first grandchild Levi Joseph was born this past summer. Not only did Olan become a certified doula to become involved with her daughter Jordan’s pregnancy but she also stayed for a whole month post-partum to help her daughter and son-in-law, David with the baby.
“Levi is very playful and interactive. I babysit him and help with feedings. It’s very easy to spend a lot of time with him,” Olan says. And of course, being a Pilates instructor Levi gets “tummy time” to build a strong core when Olan comes for a visit.
Although Levi hasn’t turned one yet, Olan can’t wait for him to talk and to share giggles. She also is looking forward to doing activities with him such as taking long walks or trips to King Kone. She hopes to do many of the things that her and her husband Ross did with their three children, only this time with a bit of more patience.
Olan brings up a meme about being a grandparent that rings true for her. “With your own kids, you’ll make them a meal and say here, take it but this is what I have for you to eat. With your grandkids, you’ll ask them if they want their sandwich cut in hearts or stars,” she says with a chuckle.
Many of Olan’s clients were excited for her to become a grandma. “I wear my heart out on my sleeve to everyone in that studio. I’m involved in my clients lives and vice versa. They know everything about me.” Olan’s clients heard all about her daughter’s wedding, the pregnancy and when Levi was born.
Plus many knew Jordan well as she had moved back to Chappaqua during COVID and was often seen on Zoom mat Pilates classes taught by her mother. So, when Levi was born, Olan placed a photo of him in her weekly email which lists the class schedule at Breathe. Clients were overwhelmingly positive about it and now photos of him are featured frequently.
Olan is most impressed with how her kids have taken on their new role as parents. “Jordan and David are such good calm parents and it is showing up in Levi’s personality,” says Olan.
One of the things that you’ll notice about Olan is her sheer honesty. “When Levi was first born, he wasn’t doing much. I was very hands-on with him but my husband wasn’t. Now that Levi is a bit older, Ross is more interactive with him.” Olan was smitten right away with Levi but it took some time for her husband to realize just how great it is to be a grandparent. The last time Levi visited with them for an extended period, Ross finally realized “this kid is amazing. The baby bug had [officially] bit him,” Olan says happily.
Bea DeRose: Baking Grandma from Briarcliff Manor
Bea DeRose is a 30-year resident of Briarcliff Manor who raised two sons in town with her husband, Cesare. Today, the now retired DeRose has two sets of grandkids – Sabrina, 13 and Juliana, 8 who live in town and Esme, 4 and Max, a toddler who lives in Manhattan. Although their ages run the gamut, it is clear that Bea loves her role as “nana”, which is her preferred name.
Reminiscing on her role as nana, DeRose say that she got to spend a lot of time with Sabrina as a baby since she was her first grandchild. Although Sabrina is busy with school and sports, they still make time for each other and love going out for lunch together. With Juliana, DeRose loves to bake and cook. “She’s my baking partner. We make cookies and I taught her how to scramble eggs so I told her for Easter she has to make a dozen eggs for the family,” she laughs. “Juliana asks all types of questions like how does the digestive system work?’ she continues and DeRose who retired from the healthcare field, cherishes these types of conversations. “She really understands what I am telling her.”
With her younger Manhattan-based grandkids, DeRose loves watching them grow. “Esme is her own little person and changes costumes every 15 minutes so of course for Christmas, I bought her some princess costumes,” notes DeRose. Hearing the pride in her voice, DeRose delights in an anecdote about Esme this year in pre-K. “A new boy came to school in the middle of the year and Esme took him by the hand and introduced him to everyone and showed him the classroom. She is very kind and friendly.”
Being a boy mom herself, DeRose was over the moon when baby Max was born. “I waited for this guy for a while. He’s running around now trying to repeat what we are saying,” she says delightedly. “It is the best thing in the world being a nana. These kids are really a gift,” she sums up.
Fran Falk-Ross, A Fun-Loving and Active Pleasantville-Based Grandma
Dr. Fran Falk-Ross, chair of the department of education at Pace University in Manhattan loves spending time with both her city dwelling granddaughters as well as her suburban Maryland grandchildren along with her retired physician husband Stephen. With Maisie, 15 and Marlowe 13, she enjoys walking with them around the city to restaurants and Broadway shows as well as playing family favorites like Monopoly and cards.
With her younger suburban-based grandkids, six-year-old Jacob and four-year- old Sadie, they all pile into the car for family outings. She loves talking to them and their interaction. “I’m always surprised how much they learn and retain–you think they aren’t listening but they are.”
“Sadie told me that she learned about Martin Luther King and that he loves peas and so does she. I said he loves peace, not peas. There is always something to teach them,” Falk-Ross says with a chuckle and adds that they teach her things as well.
Even though Falk-Ross is in her 70s, she does a lot of sports with them especially the older grandkids including skiing, tennis, pickleball and ice skating. Once she even did the climb and zipline treetop adventure at the Bronx Zoo with Maisie and Marlowe.
She hopes her grandkids learn to take a chance whether it be pushing the little ones on the swings a bit higher or exploring new ideas and options. “I hope my grandkids can also learn to be purposeful and go for what they want and ask for what they want. I want them to feel good about their own ideas and ask questions with feeling accepted.
Carol Weston: An Armonk Author Who Loves Reading with Her Grandkids
Armonk resident Carol Weston, an author who appears frequently at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival, has written more than a dozen books for children including such popular favorites as “Ava and Pip” and “Speed of Life.”
Although her books are written for an older audience, Weston always finds time to read to her two grandsons, Waylon, 3, and Frost,1. “I always have board books in my bag and there’s nothing like going to the library to get a stack of books that you and your grandchild like. “Some books you don’t mind reading a thousand times,” says the self-described “besotted” grandmother.
Although her grandchildren live in Montana and Maine, Weston and her husband Rob are happy to travel long distances to see them. “I was crying when Waylon was a baby and we had to say goodbye. Your heart is outside of your body in this whole other being. It is just this undiluted and unconditional love.”
Reflecting on her time as a parent, Weston said the hardest part of parenthood is trying to balance so many things. “As a grandparent, my job is all about enjoying them.”
And Weston surely does with trips to nearby Rochambeau Farm, the Central Park carousel, and ice cream outings. She and Rob tag team when watching the kids. “He’ll plop them in the wheelbarrow and take them around the yard and I’ll read to them. We help each other out and we realize this is a fleeting moment. So get in there and enjoy it,” she advises other grandparents.