About two months ago, I became a great grandmother. Our new family member is a boy, his name is Ariel and he lives in Jerusalem.
My friends congratulated me, commented on how excited I must be and questioned when I planned to visit him. At 95 years of age, the journey to Israel is one I don’t contemplate with confidence – so I have decided against it. The possibility of Ariel and his parents coming to New York in the near future is very uncertain.
There are many stories in history and literature of family separation and disbursement, sometimes never to be heard from again. When there was communication, it was limited and often delayed. But over time, communication improved – the postal system, telegrams and the telephone.
Ariel was born in the era of modern technology. Technology is the way I am getting to know him. I get frequent pictures of him on e-mails and messages about how amazing he is with more pictures. Then there is Skype, which shows him smiling, moving around, interacting with his parents – and its free! I can even speculate as to which family member he resembles. He is already a familiar presence on Facebook. If he weren’t so young, he would probably be twittering!
For me, getting to know my great grandson through technology is not very fulfilling. I see babies on screens, in magazines, on the street, and often admire them – but they are not my baby. I personally get pleasure from babies when I can touch them, hold them, taste them, and breathe in their delicious aroma – I can’t do that with Ariel.
Maybe in a future era of technology, we can touch them, smell them, cuddle them – but that era has not yet arrived.