From away

By Bill Roesing | Oct 17, 2010

Some of the most precious folks “from away” are the parents and inlaws who come to see or live with their sons, daughters, spouses, and grandchildren, regardless of whether the visit is for days or for life.

My extended family has the privilege of having two such visitors every year. One arrived this week to spend the fall with her daughter’s family of three little ones. This is hardly exceptional. What is somewhat out of the ordinary is that she arrived from Sydney, Australia, while the other left a few weeks ago for her home in Taiwan.

Decades ago, my parents were also visitors from away. Mom and my dad would drive over from Chicago a couple of times a year, until they finally moved to Camden in 1975.

In talking to my sister about Alison’s arrival from Down Under, we reminisced about how different the world of communications is now and how it affects families.

When my parents’ Midoast grandchildren were born three decades ago, a period of choices and challenges began. They realized how much time would pass and how many events they would miss from the arrival of the children to the arrival of teeth.

When the final child of that generation was born in 1978, my parents were now here in town. I was the outlier, living in Washington, D.C.

One of the family jokes has my parents calling me to report the news of the family’s first home birth, my third nephew. Two days later, they called this bachelor who probably thought that a midwife was from the second of three marriages, sternly asking why I had not called my sister. I innocently asked, “Oh, has she come to yet?” In fact, of course, she’d made breakfast that morning.

I offer this bit of humbling history to draw attention to the new world personified by our Australian visitor. Due to such easy and instant technologies as Skype and iChat, the visits from away are surely just as cherished in their first moments, but hopefully less anxious in their final ones. These mothers see their families virtually daily while living more than 10,000 miles away. Alison will be in the room this Christmas when her gifts to her grandchildren are opened. Last year she watched them (and they her) on a laptop screen.

But the big gift is to the children. Making grandma from away as familiar as Big Bird is a new world and a better one.

Welcome Alison.

 

Bill Roesing lives in Camden.

 

 

 

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