Hangout! Skype me, Grandma!

Dee Gurley

Enough about the loss of contact and community that is engendered by our modern obsession with electronic gadgets,Twitter, Facebook, blogs and smart phone apps! Let’s forget for a moment about the daily online and print reports of cyber-bullying, sexual predators, and addictions to online pastimes.  Last Sunday gave our family a chance to experience the best use of internet communications. 

It was the last day of a visit with our daughter in Brooklyn. Katherine and her fiancé, Travis invited Buck and I and Travis’s mother, Judy Morrison over for a chance to see the newest updates to their apartment before we headed home.

Katherine, Judy and I were sitting on the bed looking at some family jewelry that might be suitable for the upcoming wedding. It was pure girl talk and fun. I could’t help but feel the long ancestral line of women present in the worn wedding bands and pearls of her grandmother, Grace Goldstein and my own grandmother, Bridgette Parrish.  

Suddenly I hear a funny ringing coming from the bag I had carried over. I pulled out my iPad and opened it up. It was my mother, Dee Gurley and she was calling on Skype! Timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I answered and we were in shock that she had done that. Apparently she was too. She had been fiddling with her iPad and all of a sudden, there we were.  

So there she was, the camera a little askew, but the sound and connection sure. I told her to bring the iPad closer to her face and turn it at a right angle. We had a brief close up of her right eye that was both fathomless and surreal. I couldn’t help but think of the great depths and wisdom I had seen in photos of whales or elephants. In some ways the video clearly conveyed something in my mom that was easy to miss in real life. 

I handed the iPad to Katherine and she took her Grandma on a tour of the apartment.  Mom said ”hi” to the others and met Judy for the first time. As Katherine walked to the kitchen, she paused as she showed her Gram the bright yellow shelves and pegboard that Travis had recently painted.  And then Katherine showed Mom a familiar mug with the ornate letters of “Dee” painted on it. I heard Katherine tell her that Travis drank his coffee from it every morning.

I couldn’t help but think how good it must feel for mom to know she is loved and thought of every morning by her family far away. And the message, so spontaneous, was both visual and palpable in a way that could not be conveyed by a call or letter.

There is nothing new about these technologies and many of us have been using them for years. But enabling Mom to hang out with us girls in Brooklyn was really sweet. 

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