Traveling is difficult for residents at senior homes, which is why at least one new family tradition was born Thanksgiving Day.
Roger and Robert Way, brothers, had about 30 people in their family come to them at Foxdale Village this year.
Roger cracked a joke before dinner was served.
“Well, it’s fairly good to have everyone here, but it’s not perfect, because I’m 96 years old, and it’s hard for me to enjoy them, because I’m so old,” Way said.
He then got serious.
“I guess I’m by far the oldest person here, but it’s really enjoyable to have all the kids here,” he said.
Way’s family traveled for hours through snowfall to be with him at the senior home his brother Ralph built.
“It was tough getting through the Poconos, the five of us, the three boys and my wife,” Way’s nephew Ben Otis said. “It got a little hairy, but we made it. We didn’t have to stop at all. It just slowed us down, but we were going to make it. When I was my kid’s age, we always used to go to my Uncle Roger’s and Aunt Mary’s for Thanksgiving when they lived in Stanley, N.Y.”
The family has played football together since Roger and Mary Way hosted dinner.
“Back when we were younger, we’d go out and have some tackle football,” Jesse Otis said. “I remember that. When we’d show up we’d run around in the yard all day and stay out of trouble sometimes. We probably won’t play any today, but we typically play and we’ll play sometime this weekend.”
Family members planned their trip to State College, because Roger Way prefers not to travel.
“The last few years Uncle Roger felt like he didn’t want to make the trip to upstate New York, so we’ve had Thanksgiving without him the last few years, so this year we thought we better bring Thanksgiving to him,” Ben Otis said. “My brothers and I and my parents organized a little bit and made sure we could come.”
Roger Way’s wife Mary said it’s nice to have a reprieve from traveling.
“It’s a real treat after all that traveling that they can come to us now,” Mary Way said. “This time we got to avoid the weather.”
Robert Way was visited by the families of two of his daughters.
“We don’t have them all, but we have a good portion of them, and that means a lot,” Robert’s wife, Ruth, said. “Those that aren’t with just had to go to the other side of their families, but we love our get-togethers. Now that we’re at Foxdale, I don’t have to do the turkey anymore, so we’ll have these lovely dinners here.”
Ruth Way’s daughter, Lana Way Salisbury, of Ferguson Township, recalled her mother’s Thanksgiving dinners.
“My mother was a wonderful cook, and she doesn’t cook as much anymore, but she could put on a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, so I remember those Thanksgiving meals being the best,” Way Salisbury said. “I’m at that age now, though, and I realize all the things we should really be thankful for in this country. To sit down to a meal like this is not the norm in the world, and what we have is pretty incredible.”
Lois Todd, Robert and Ruth Way’s daughter, can’t remember the last time she didn’t cook for Thanksgiving.
“I was trying to think of the last time I didn’t cook, and it’s been many years,” Todd said. “It’s great. I’ll admit it’s great that I don’t have to worry about the cooking and cleanup.”
Robert and Ruth Way’s granddaughter Emily Davis traveled from Washington, D.C., with her husband, John, and three daughters.
“It’s a cultural drive to want to be home for celebrations, and we talked about that driving up here,” Davis said.
They hope their daughters, all under five, someday travel to see them, too.
“The tradition to be with family for Thanksgiving is important,” John Davis said. “When they have families, we fully expect them to come see us.”