I did something the other day that made me feel I was in one of those science fiction books I read as a kid, I made a video call. Honey and I sat in front of my tablet and wished our granddaughter, 1200km away, a happy birthday. It was slick!
Now I know that some of you are laughing and asking where I have been for the last decade, but this is a big step for me. My distrust of social media has always made me hesitant to use some of the tools that it makes available to the common man. The protocols involved require that I give authorization for my device (phone, tablet, and laptop) to be accessed by god knows who or what. In the past anytime I have started to investigate using my electronics for such space age tasks, when I have been asked for the permissions required to send video and audio into the nether world I have always freaked out, said no, closed my device, covered it in tinfoil and hidden it under the bed for a week. This week I said okay, left the tinfoil in the kitchen drawer, and watched as Honey was rewarded with a live visual of her three year-old granddaughter.
The transformation in Honey was instantaneous. She smiled that smile that she reserves for those times when she is in the proximity of one of her grandchildren (see: granny goodness) and wished her granddaughter a happy birthday. I know that she wanted nothing more than to reach out and hug the little girl, but seeing her live was a step beyond a simple phone call and Honey reacted the way she does when she is in the same room with any of her grand-babies. This reaction in my wife was a relief to see, since family and the proximity too have always been seen a hurdle to our future plans.
When Honey and I have discussed our future plans to ‘liquidate and relocate’, the costs associated with survival have always included frequent trips back to Canada so Honey can see her grandchildren. This is not cheap, so frequent is relative and over time and many discussions it has been decided that Honey will make frequent trips and I will mostly stay on the beach. This is ok with me and even though she hates the travel (big crowds, small spaces) and is currently mortified at the thought of traveling alone, Honey agrees it makes the most economic sense.
Until the video call the other day, the magic number was six, five for her and one for me. That call and subsequent future calls will possibly shave the trip requirement down to four (3:1), thus saving us thousands of dollars. Watching Honey get something more out of the video call than she would out of a regular call gives me hope. Yes it could backfire and cause the opposite reaction, creating an increased need for physical touch but I’m not a hugger so I’m optimistic.
I know that no technology will ever replace Honey being in the same room with her grandchildren but seeing their faces as she talked to them enhanced the sense of connection. It was no longer just a disembodied voice at the other end of a phone. She could see the 3 year-old smile when she recognized her grandmother’s face and she knew her granddaughter could see her grandma smile back at her. We can say much with our facial expressions and body language, simple things that get lost with just words over a wire or typed messages. On a video call a message is communicated with a look and a laugh and not ‘lol’ so the recipient gets your meaning and sending love and a virtual hug is easier to show than it is to say out loud.
Our call was short but a resounding success. I raise a glass to video chat and the good feelings it can create. To the enhanced sense of connection with friends and family it makes possible from thousands of miles apart and for helping to lower the hurdle that Honey and I face.
I have written before that all I will require to keep in touch with those that are important to me is wifi and one device to access it; this test of the technology proves out my point. The call we made to Elyza was without the use of a phone and did not include any costs for long distance and I now know that Honey and I can stay in touch from a beach in the Dominican Republic and still watch our grandchildren grow. My world just got smaller and bigger at the same time.
Just a note for those that are wondering, the Playa Paraiso en Magante survived Maria’s wrath and after a second clean-up is open for business. Ginger says I should stop ‘slagging’ Mother Nature. She might have a point…