These days, what with technology putting Star Trek-like phones in the palms of our hands, we have the ability to connect with people like never before. I myself chat with friends in England, Israel and Australia on a regular basis. Recently, we had a very special family event: my daughter's wedding.
Unfortunately, Ralph and Penny, my in-laws could not attend. Ralph is in a nursing home and can't travel; there was no way Penny would ever leave her man.
So strong are the bonds of love that bind one to the other, Penny to Ralph and Ralph to Penny that they cannot stand to be apart, even for a single day.
Well, the family decided that such a little inconvenience wasn't going to keep them from being a part of the happy event. Their other granddaughter, Kim, set up a computer with Skype. We checked the Wi-Fi setup at the venue to insure they'd be able to connect with the system and get a nice clear signal.
When the day arrived, the family made every effort to impress and make it special. Penny’s brother Bill was in the same room as Ralph and so she brought their best dress clothes, just the tops mind you. As the boys were in bed, they kept their pajama bottoms on. She brought flowers for their lapels, wore her finest dress and put a sign on the door: “Do not Disturb, Wedding in Progress.”
Staff at the nursing home was very good about keeping the noise level down and giving them some privacy. Kim even arranged for one of her tech friends to be there for the whole ceremony and reception, just in case a glitch arose. After all, between the three of them, none was “tech savvy.”
At the appointed time, the guests assembled in their two respective locations. Kim held her computer pad so that its webcam caught all of the ceremony. Now that I think of it, I don't recall if she was able to get a good shot of the singers at the end. I’ll need to check on that.
My regular readers will know of what I speak. For those of you who don't, I refer you to the story of my daughter's wedding. It’s worth a read.
Later, during the reception, Kim diligently carried her computer pad around. The guests at our "Remote Location" saw everything, the meal, the dancing and all the festivities. As it was a Jewish wedding, chair bouncing was required. I’m sure Ralph cringed at the sight of his little granddaughter tossed around without a proper seatbelt. Sound quality on the pad was decent, too, so they were able to hear the music, the toasts and, most important, everyone talked with everyone and wished the happy couple well.
There was a time, it seems so very long ago now, when we had the Bell Telephone System. One of their mottos concerned their long distance phone service. They said it was, "The next best thing to being there." I can't help but think what a disappointing experience Ralph, Penny and Bill would have had if their only connection to our happy day had been a few minutes on the phone. Being able to chat with them, see their smiling faces and know that they truly got to experience the modern day equivalent of that saying meant a lot to all of us.
The participation, of Penny and Ralph, in her most special of days is a memory she will cherish forever.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
Click above to tell a friend about this article.