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  • Writer's pictureKaren Terhune Duncan

Grand Neighbors

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

This month, our precious Claire and Anna have received their bachelor’s degrees. It was our plan to be there, in New Jersey, for this momentous occasion, but vile Coronavirus, altered that. The girls were confirmed their degrees, virtually, as is the practice this year. Commencement ceremonies were derailed both at Rutgers University and Seton Hall University, now their alma maters.

We have witnessed, with utter joy, their milestones. Their parents, our dear friends Katherine and Ralph, have allowed us, from the beginning, a front row seat. Their journey as parents of these remarkable girls is not our story. That’s their story to tell. Our story of Claire and Anna is all that we’ve shared watching these girls grow to the special women they are today. So much so that when I recently presented them both with this video, their mother said to me chuckling, “They had a different childhood with you two than with us.”

I think the late author Irma Bombeck once claimed the same thing; that parents often don’t see what others see in their children. We are not related to these girls. They are blessed with wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins. Doug and I were their “grand neighbors”. We lived next door when they were very young, and then once we moved, they spent many weekends with us. Even when Katherine and Ralph would travel, we often hosted the girls for extended stays. We have magical memories of our outings, cooking together, homework and musical recitals.

As very young girls they would spend hours with me in the garden. The loved the hose, getting wet, and helping me dig in the dirt. We planted strawberries, tomatoes and herbs which they loved to pick. As they got older our activities with them changed. I helped make Halloween and school play costumes, cheer at their softball games, swimming team events and Chinese dance recitals. We took them on the train to New York; to plays, fabric shopping, SOHO and to Chinatown for BubbleTea. Their weekend overnights with us usually included an old movie. They loved Sound of Music, and strongly disliked Gone With the Wind. They are modern American women. We took them to a Seton Hall basketball games, a Rutgers football game, so when they selected these as their colleges, we were overjoyed.

My garden when we lived next door. Early 2000s

On the train to NYC, 2007

At my mother’s memorial luncheon, 2014. They were in high school. Claire played the flute at the service which my mother would have adored. Anna is holding a photo of both of them with my mother. We are so very honored to have this family in our lives. Here’s to Claire and Anna. We sure love you guys!! Congratulations!

Claire got her BA in Graphic Design and Advertising with a Minor in Web Design from Seton Hall University.

Anna got her BA as a double major in Political Science and Chinese from Rutgers University.

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