Last August my son Shane moved to Los Angeles to attend film school. My daughter Courtney lives with her husband Justin in Arizona. Before the pandemic hit, I had been traveling each week to Arizona to be at my client’s for work, Monday through Thursday. When I started traveling regularly to Arizona, I spoke to Courtney about getting together regularly, it was something that she and I were both excited to have the opportunity to do. It has been almost ten years since we have lived in close proximity or at least been in close proximity for regular visits. Instead these past 10 years we have relied on in frequent visits around the holidays and those because of work commitments had also been irregular and infrequent. So for the back half of 2019 and the first three months of 2020 we had been getting together for dinner every other week, the past few months Justin had even joined in, giving me the opportunity to get to know who he is today, 10 years into their marriage and a tour in Afghanistan also under his belt, he is no longer that young man that my daughter had married he is a fine man and a good husband to my daughter. It was great to get close to both of them again.
Shane and his fiancé, Sierra had been living in our granny flat for the past few years so I felt like we had had an opportunity to spend more regular time together over that time however now that he is in Los Angeles I can look back at that time and wish that we would have done so much more together. Perhaps that is always the vantage point of looking backwards, I suppose you always get to apply that list of “I wish I would have” or “I think we should have”. Either way, I was missing him right about the time that I was able to see my daughter regularly again.
When the pandemic hit and we went into lock down I remember thinking to myself that life would return to normal in a month or two, boy was that thought wrong! Around the end of April a little more than a month into lock down it was getting clearer to me that nothing would be going back to “normal” anytime soon and I was beginning to think that what I had thought of as my “normal” would likely never really be true again.
Thankfully, I was still able to see my son Michael who is 13 and goes between our house and his other Mom’s, he was my connection to a sense of normalcy since we kept him on his same schedule, that regularity and his “always in a good mood” nature helped me tremendously in those early days of lockdown.
It was toward the end of April when I was on a zoom call teaching a writing class that I had the thought, to get the kids on zoom and have a call. We organized our first zoom call at the end of that week. The three of us have been doing weekly zoom calls ever since and well, I am both excited and feel guilty to say that I have not felt as close to my children than I do right now at least not since they have been adults. These regular calls have allowed the three of us to reconnect, share what has gone on in our week and how our life is going. We have been able to be there for one another through the impacts that Covid-19 has had in each of our lives; my daughter’s layoff, my son’s front line work in a grocery store and my own world changing so much after two and a half decades of traveling every week to have my life ground to a halt. This last week when my son was feeling down about whether it was going to be affective for him to learn film making on-line, his sister and I reminded him that he actually has everything he needs now to be a filmmaker and he was his own proof as he has already made two short films. We all feel a little unsure right now because old ways of doing things aren’t holding up but staying to connected to what we can do keeps us in our power and in the driver’s seat of our own life
A week or so ago when on our weekly call the kids asked how their grandfather, my Dad was doing. I had a thought, I wonder if we can get him on zoom? Now, my Dad is 80 this year and while he is very active, in good health and energetic, he has never been much for technology, but I thought I would talk to him about it. Luckily my Dad was up for the challenge, he opted to ask his grand-daughter Brandi (his current wife’s granddaughter), who lives near him in Michigan to help with the set up the next time that she was over. A few days later he had the app added to his phone and we were ready to test it, I gave him a code and told him how to get there and while that first time was a 50% success with me seeing him but neither of us able to hear the other, with a little more help from Brandi we were able to get it sorted.
A few days later I noticed that I kept getting emails that my zoom attendees were waiting, and I could see that it was my Dad. When our day came to have my call with the kids, I called my Dad and asked him if he wanted to join. He said that he had been trying to “call” me. I had to chuckle and explain to my 80-year-old father that zoom doesn’t work like a phone call, it doesn’t ring and allow you to just pick it up. My kids got a chuckle from grandpa’s applying the phone technology he knows to zoom. Last week, my kids were able to talk to and see their grandfather who my daughter hadn’t seen in almost 10 years and my son hadn’t seen in even longer. My Dad was happy to know that he could see us and ask us how we are, hear my kids’ responses directly not my interpretation of what was going on for them.
As I sit here and write this, I am filled with gratitude for the good that this pandemic has done for life, the connection with my kids and my father can’t be replaced and I am looking forward to talking with my kids and my Dad again this week. Life is too precious to let this opportunity slip by. Mostly, I no longer want it to take a pandemic for me to have connection with those I love and care about.