Can You FaceTime Me?

 

“Can you face time me and iMessage me to sometimes please?”

In today’s technology filled world such a text may not seem unusual. But, it was coming from my youngest grandchild, who recently turned seven. For her birthday, she received an iPod Touch. I don’t remember what I received for my seventh birthday. I do know it had nothing to do with technology. It was probably a doll. On second thought, Betsy Wetsy was a big hit at the time so maybe there was some very primitive technology involved.

In an era when having a television in the house was a status symbol, when I was seven, I never thought I would be conversing with my grandchildren on a machine that fit in the palm of my hand. Yet, here we are. Time marches on and so does technology.

One of my grandmothers lived on the next street over. I would run through the neighbor’s yard to watch Lawrence Welk with her on many a Saturday evening. Sitting cross-legged at her feet as she snipped pieces of cloth to make a quilt , I would take each segment dropping it in a paper bag at the side of her chair — fond memories.

Five of my grandchildren, including the youngest, live nearly eight hundred miles away. None of them will come skipping through a neighbor’s yard to visit me. They do text me and FaceTime with me. The three oldest, teens and twenties, are on FaceBook with me along with my two daughters. Technology then becomes a lifeline to the future, a bridge for a long distance relationship. I embrace it, revel in it, welcome it. There are snippets of their lives; my life. And pictures galore.

Technology has its downside. Some complain it is a way of disconnecting with others. Some people seem almost addicted to it, unable to put down the phone or stop texting. It can be expensive, but so were TVs and phones when we were kids. And how many had parents who complained about the time we spent talking on the phone or plopped in front of the TV, forcing time limits to be imposed? Oh, and the cars, riding ‘The Circuit’ in Asbury Park on a Friday night instead of doing something constructive with our teenage time.

Everything has an upside and a downside. As always, life is a balancing act. While technology exposes us to the wider world, there is also a time to shut it off. There is a time to let quiet enter and to just be. Technology is a tool, like money, like the coffeemaker or the electric drill or anything else we use to enhance our lives.

Yes, dear grandchild, I will FaceTime and iMessage you, too, sometimes. I love you bunches and bunches and I love hearing from you and I love that technology makes it possible to instantly see you and talk to you. I love receiving messages that say, “I love you so much and can’t stop saying it. You and popa are right in my heart.” And, you are right in mine.

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LIFE IS STRANGE

After writing the last blog on technology, which garnered lots of comments (thank you!), a life is strange experience occurred a couple of days ago prompting more thoughts on technology. But, the real story is the part about humans, not machines. Working in the garden, cell phone clipped to my jeans, I receive a text from a friend on the other side of the country. “Kathy, are you free right now? I need a favor.” Since I’m rarely free from activity these days but always willing to drop whatever to help out a friend in need, I text back, “What do you need?” The story is a friend of my friend has passed away. The woman was estranged from her family and children. My friend is trying to locate the children to inform them of their mother’s passing. And, she needs a favor from me? How can I possibly help? My friend thinks she found her friend’s daughter on Facebook. Since my friend does not have a FB account (yes, I have friends who are not totally tied into the world of technology), can I send a message to her friend’s daughter asking the daughter to call my friend so my friend can impart the news of the mother’s passing (whew…are you still with me?…hope I’m writing this well enough to understand). Of course, I say, “Yes.”

Still standing in a sea of coreopsis and sunlight, I use my smart phone to pull up my Facebook account and plug in the daughter’s name. Glancing at her photo, she looks happy, not someone who is estranged from her mother, years and years of estrangement to the point of no one knowing where she is in the world. I try not to dwell too much on the photo. After all, I’m on a mission. But, my imagination and the tragedy of this situation tug at the edges of my mind. I imagine what may have broken their relationship to such extremes. Imagine a daughter, who is coming of age but still immature. Imagine she wants to be free of her mother’s supervision. Imagine a mother, worried her daughter might make mistakes, so she holds tighter and tighter while the daughter struggles harder and harder to be free. Imagine the mother, in desperation, becomes more controlling. Imagine the daughter does make mistakes and the mother can’t resist an “I told you so.” Imagine the daughter runs away, severs the relationship forever. There are probably a hundred more scenarios I can imagine. But, back to my mission. Right now I have to write a simple message. Not much information, one line should do it. I imagine how strange it will be for this daughter to receive my message, a message from a complete stranger in another state, asking her to call another complete stranger in yet another state who is a friend of her mother. I look at the picture again. She looks intelligent. She’ll read between the lines. But, will she care? Will she call? As I stand in my sea of flowers poking one letter at a time on the small screen of my phone, it occurs to me how strange and even wonderful it is that within minutes this daughter is found (hopefully it’s the daughter), my friend and I have communicated across thousands of miles and I am now sending a message to this woman. Life is strangely wonderful and at the same time, often cruel and unjust. There is a certain poignancy to this unfolding story.

Coreopsis At My Feet

Coreopsis At My Feet

After texting “Done” to my friend, I continue working and wondering if the daughter will call. How hard it must be for my friend to deliver such sad news, not knowing how it will be received. Or, if it will be received, waiting to see if the daughter ever calls at all. And, how tragic for this family torn apart for whatever reason to hear the news of a mother’s death, having no way now of making amends, if there is any regret. Within minutes, my friend sends another text announcing the daughter’s call to her. The daughter jumped right on it. She cared. Although I never met my friend’s friend or her daughter, I say a little prayer for these two women. They have unexpectedly touched my life, reminding me of what is important in my little world. I pray for inner peace and self-forgiveness for the daughter. I hope the mother’s spirit is at rest. Surely, there were times when each wanted to reach out to the other, to close the gap of silence, to speak and forgive. And, I say a prayer for my friend, for taking on the role of family and caring. As for me, my heart is heavy yet at the same time, very light. I smile at the sunny day and the sea of coreopsis at my feet. Somehow, I feel like I played a larger role in the universe today. Life is, indeed, strange.