You can see the delight on Sunday’s face. Her mother, Michelle, is leaning over the iPad. Sunday is beaming because she is looking at another beloved face. Her mother, Miriam, is talking with her via Facetime. Miriam is in Melbourne, putting in a day’s work, while Michelle and Sunday enjoy their beach house in Anglesea. Facetime (the Mac equivalent of Skype) connects them.
Robin and I are here enjoying their company in the short time that remains for us to be with the grandchildren. Being with them makes us feel incredibly blessed.
Melbourne to Anglesea is a shorter distance than Kelowna, British Columbia, to Melbourne. The extra miles make a difference because signals drop when they have to bounce so many miles. Sometimes there are so many users online we have to turn off the video and content ourselves with voice. Timing the calls is awkward because of the huge time difference. Still, watching Sunday interact with her mother via iPad reminds us how lucky we are to live in a computer era.
When Robin’s father left England to emigrate to Australia and then, years later, Robin left Australia to emigrate to Canada, the threads of family connection were stretched thin. No matter how many loving thoughts they sent across the miles, no matter how many letters they exchanged, emigrés missed watching the grandchildren’s first steps, their excitement on birthdays, their hockey games and concerts.
Skype, Facetime, and whatever other options people use now or in future will never substitute for a cuddle and will always give only a partial glimpse into the lives of those far away. Still, I’m happy to be living at a time when such connections are possible. They make the world feel smaller and friendlier.