Relatives from four nations met overseas this year. This time all three siblings attended – aged 60+, 70+ and 80+. And the youngest representative of the older generation was there as well. My mother and her brother aren’t the only ones who own tablets bearing the logo with the bitten piece of fruit. The youngest of the family has one as well. The younger generation usually showed up with a smartphone of the same make. My mother – I already wrote that – has both devices.
While the oldest uses the device to read the news, the middle one is busy with playing games and the youngest writes e-mails to customers. Everybody has something to do. What can I say? The generation of grandchildren lolls among the older generation lying on the couch and tells of their experiences. I, representing the middle generation, notice that something has changed. Wasn’t it once the dear little ones who couldn’t keep their eyes off the small devices’ screens?
Multi-tasking oldies – and the younger ones smile softly
And if you address one of the multi-tasking oldies, their head rises and the tablet comes down – in slow motion. Of course they listen. And the answers are coming quick and fast. Everyone is talking over each other to state their opinion. My children are smiling mildly. The next family get-together is being planned for 2020. My mother’s eightieth birthday is coming up, the sixtieth of her godchild, the thirtieth of the latter’s son and the twentieth of my youngest. My mother knows exactly where she wants to go: Cuba. But with Wi-Fi.
The slightly hard of hearing 80+ year-old brother asks politely not to opt for Havana, because it’s too loud there. Too bad, because I found really cool accommodation there. My kids loved it. Instead, he suggests a different place. The frequently traveling cousin writes from New Zealand: “I’d love to go to Cuba, but please not to the small town.” Even though I have to start over again: I love our luxury problem.
Conference call with Canada
Meanwhile, as (almost) all of us are back in the middle of everyday life, the three siblings are worried about each other. One of them can’t be reached. As a result, my sister calls my mother by landline from France – who then calls her brother in Canada via facetime. It’s actually quite simple: Hold the phone to the tablet and everyone can talk to each other and flush any worries down the drain. When my mother talks about her facetime idea, my children and I smile. My children often make conference calls, which is no foreign concept to me either.
“The old become like children,” my grandmother often used to say during her lifetime. Exactly, I answer, and the dear little ones can still learn so much. “We’ve taught you so much,” they say defensively. “Now it’s your turn,” is the slightly indignant reply from the gray-haired ones. You have to hand it to them: They solve their worries.