If my grandpa can’t come to the pictures, they come to him


About a month ago, I was visiting my grandpa when he got a call.  His  girlfriend jumped three feet in the air because the phone is loud since my grandpa used to be a railroad engineer in the Ol’ USSR and now has awful hearing as a result.

“Do you know why she jumps so high,” my grandpa asked me conspiratorially, oblivious to the noise.

“No,” I said.

“It’s because she thinks Malach HaMavet (the Angel of Death) is calling her. ”

This is typical for my grandpa.  He has a joke or anecdote for every situation.

What wasn’t typical is that it was his nephew, one of my “uncles”, calling him from Minneapolis.  My grandpa hasn’t seen this nephew in 20+ years and his brother’s children were getting married soon.

“Can you mail me some pictures of them, and of your brother?  I want to get a good look at you.”

Since my grandpa has his phone volume up really high, I could hear my uncle on the other line.  “The pictures are on the Internet; we have a website.  You can look at them,” he said hurriedly.

My grandpa got confused.  “I don’t know how to get to them that way.  Can you print them out and mail them to me?”   My grandpa doesn’t even have a computer.  How are you going to tell an almost-80-year-old man to try to get the pictures from somewhere in the ether, which might as well be the moon for all he knows?

“Do you want me to print them out for you?’  I asked my grandpa.   He brushed me away, but I could tell he was disappointed.  So was my uncle.  Because I don’t remember the last time I printed pictures-it’s simply too inconvenient now to have to go to Target, drop them off, block out an hour, and come back.  I’d rather just e-mail everyone my web albums, which is what I do.  On the other hand, there is just that something about a paper photo.

Flash forward to last weekend.  We went to visit him again, and I had an idea.

Ever since I’ve gotten my new phone,  I’ve been taking pictures like crazy, and I now have full Internet, which means I never have to leave The Matrix.

I pulled up my Picasa albums on my phone and started showing my grandpa.

It was pretty awesome having my grandpa being able to view pictures that before only existed somewhere in the void  since none of us print out any pictures anymore; everything goes through e-mail.  When we do print them for him, we print a select few; there is no way I’d be able to show him all 100+ of my photo galleries without a computer. For him, it was like a whole new world, even if the screen was small (time to get an iPad?)

As a result, he got to see pictures  that were never printed out, of his granddaughters at their cousin’s wedding.

Technology is even more amazing than we all say it is  when we see someone use it for the first time. I usually don’t stop to think about how convenient it is, but this whole new window opening for my grandpa put it in perspective for me.

I’ll wrap up with this other grandpa and technology-related link.