For decades, we’ve had family and friends spread across the globe.
Back in the day, we wrote letters. Occasional phone calls between UK and Australia were a rare treat at one pound per minute. Aerogrammes and special occasion telegrams were treasured.
As we raised our daughters, grandparents were not on the doorstep. “Nan” lived a few hours drive away and came to stay for a weekend, every couple of months. “Gran” lived a twenty four hour flight away and came to stay for several weeks, every couple of years.
Colleagues lived in the same street as their parents and / or adult siblings. Extended family dinner every Sunday was the norm for them, but never for us.
We had strong relationships despite the distance. It is great to have family and friends that you have not seen, face to face, for a few years, but with whom you can pick up the conversation as if it was only yesterday that you last sat down together.
Our girls grew up and spread their own wings. Technology changed and emails took the place of letters.
S~E moved to Sydney and we got into a regular Sunday Skype chat routine. Our UK morning to her Australian evening. We also had real time email and iMessage conversations.
C~M spent six months in Buenos Aires and we chatted on face time each monday. My winter evening to her sunny afternoon. Internet connection was limited in the orphanage where she was working. She had to sit outside one particular house. I loved our conversations with a sheep in the background, with dogs wandering by, with kids calling out and chatting in Spanish.
I admit to stalking my kids on Facebook. It’s a great and easy way to share snippets of life and photos. I now use Facebook more than the girls do. Their lives are busy and they are posting less in their twenties than they did as teens.
Now that we are in Australia, regular phone calls and face time chats with Aus family is easy. Family discussions with phones on speaker, not just private one to one conversations. I’m used to being nine hours ahead of the UK. I now have a regular Monday evening Skype chat with my Mum as she starts her day.
Chats with C~M are still a bit irregular. She has a busy social life so weekend mornings are not always a good time for her. Several friends have been celebrating twenty first birthdays recently, so lots of parties and nights out. We speak most weeks, but not at a set day or time. The last couple of weeks it has been during her lunch, sitting outside the children’s nursery where she works.
Last week, S~E visited us and it was delightful to hear both my girls voices together in the same room. They had a long Skype chat, with lots of giggles. Just random sister stuff but great to overhear. It’s been two years since our family unit of four has been together face to face, but it doesn’t seem that long with today’s technology.
I still like to receive old style post in the mail box. I have the time to hand write letters, to send postcards each week, to have snail mail correspondence with a few friends. Sometimes I hand write the postcard but I also use a lovely app, Touchnote, that allows me to create postcards from my own photos.
There are so many ways to keep in touch now across the miles. But voices still have a special place.