Our bags were packed, boarding passes downloaded and shuttle to the airport confirmed. The night before we were to leave to visit our son and his family for the weekend, a text arrived. Our DIL just wanted us to know she wouldn't be home when we arrived but our teenage granddaughter would be. Then the long back-and-forth text conversation got underway.
Readers, I won't bore you with the details, but our DIL, an only child, has a lot of "sandwich generation" stuff on her plate: A hospitalized aunt (never married; no children) who lost her hearing aids and smartphone; parents (one with cognitive issues) in mid-move to a house near her where there was a "construction" emergency there while it was being readied for their arrival. Nothing was going smoothly for either her aunt or her parents. She assured us we should come; she might be distracted but we were welcome.
We opted not to go, in part because we didn't want to be an additional burden but also because we were weary from a tiring trip the previous weekend. It was the right decision to make. That's what I kept telling myself when the blues over not being able to hug our son, grandchild and DIL set in.
That's when technology stepped in to take some of the edge off the disappointment.
We were supposed to watch a soccer game together on my son's big-screen TV. My older granddaughter, a freshman at a small college in the midwest, made the soccer team and the game was available via a link to the college's website. Watching together couldn't happen but we followed the game on our iPad; they watched on their TV and we texted back and forth about every pass and move our granddaughter made while she was in the game. It was almost like being together and being there (except that the players are teeny tiny on an iPad).
That evening, we had a date with the at-home granddaughter who's just starting high school. We FaceTime chatted for almost an hour--what the first week of high school was like, what classes she was taking, what books she was reading, how her ninja classes were going. The leisurely one-on-one chat, with some asides for family commentary, made us feel like we had a good visit with a teenager who, like many kids her age, spends most of their time on their iPhones and in their bedrooms.
The granola I baked to bring to them is in the freezer (old technology). Our bags are unpacked. But so is some of the funk I felt when we had to cancel. That's the upside of technology: It can put us in our children's homes, virtually and for a moment. It's not as warm as a hug but it's not as removed as a phone call.
photo credit: Palo Coleman