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Resident, granddaughter enjoy their time together

“She’s so witty and funny that we usually end up laughing a lot,” says Jessica Hardy of visits with her grandmother, Mary Lou Kenworthy.

“Usually we laugh about how we know a lot of things or a lot of nothing,” Jessica said. “Or a lot of things about nothing.”

Grandparents Day is on September 11, meant to celebrate the special connection between grandparents and grandchildren. But Jessica doesn’t need a special day. She drops in on Mary Lou, a memory care resident at Wichita Presbyterian Manor, three of four times a week.

“We always have a good time, and over the past few years we’ve gotten closer than we’ve ever been,” Jessica said. “In a weird sort of way, COVID brought us together because I wasn’t doing much and she wasn’t doing much, so we talked on the phone a lot.”

But the bond between grandmother and granddaughter goes back to Jessica’s childhood, when Mary Lou lived a ten-minute walk away from her family’s home in Manhattan, Kan.

Mary Lou is the reason she drinks coffee, Jessica says, and she has influenced Jessica’s taste in movies and music, too.

“I’ve probably got a lot of my personality from her and from my mom,” Jessica said.

For many years, they lived in different cities. But when Jessica got a job teaching at Truesdell Middle School in Wichita, she convinced Mary Lou to relocate, too. The two women both moved within a week of each other.

Now Jessica is a 15-minute drive from Presbyterian Manor. The two will often stop at Braum’s for a milkshake, then cruise around listening to 40’s Junction on SiriusXM satellite radio.

They also enjoy watching movies together, just as they did when Jessica was a child. Mary Lou Mary Lou particularly enjoys the films of Jimmy Stewart and Gene Kelly.

They recently watched “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Jessica and Mary Lou have watched “The Sound of Music” more times than Jessica can count.

“We have a great time and I enjoy hanging out with her and all the folks she lives with as well,” she said.

“Everyone who works here is so nice,” said Jessica, who is on a first-name basis with the Presbyterian Manor staff. “I feel really fortunate that she’s here.”

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