Monday, January 11, 2010

Facebook sorrow

I have been thinking about my Mother a lot lately. Actually, I think about my mother all the time, but, as I have moved from my eighties to my nineties, I have a new ( and aching) pain.

I am feeling that I have things so much easier than she did. Not that she lived an underprivileged life, in any way.  She had grown up in a household where she didn't need to lift a finger.  She never learned to cook. My Dad was a good provider and, although we were far from rich, she never had to be a housewife, in that old-fashioned sense of the word.  After my Dad died, very young, fifty-two years old, she remarried into an even more privileged life.

Not that she was ever idle, sitting around eating bonbons. She was a super-active volunteer, serving in the Red Cross efforts during both World War I and World War II. She set up and organized the Blood Bank,  delegating tasks, supervising and checking on the on-going work around her. She served on local Boards and National Boards; she knew how to take charge. And she did.

She travelled extensively to far and exotic places, she made so many friends on the way. She would get letters, or visitors, or phone calls from many of them.  She had a Columbus circle of interesting people. She had a hair appointment every Friday, and the woman who was scheduled just after her had started a very successful stock club, ( do any of your remember stock clubs? ) These two bright women would meet for lunch and discuss the market.

What I regret, for her, was the emptiness of her days when old age caught up with her. Oh, she played cards and went out to meals when she was well enough to do that.  She had moved into a new high-rise apartment building, after the death of her second husband. She was surrounded by friends from her previous life and friends she made in the building. But the days grew longer and her abilities decreased. Television was not stimulating or even very well-done. And, of course, she died long before computers began to change the world.

It is, I have finally realized, Facebook that is making me sad for her. I can sit in my house and my comfortable chair and touch base with so many people that I love. What if she could have laughed at what color brassiere her granddaughter is wearing. To know where her great-grandchildren are practically every hour of the day and night. (There is some of that information she probably shouldn't know. ) And I shouldn't know, either.

With Facebook, she could have kept up with the He/Shes, two homosexual men whom she had met in her travels, and who kept in touch, by mail. They were bright and funny, but on a slow boat to China or on a South Pacific Island. She could still be communicating with Ida Reiter, a fellow Red Cross volunteer or Lucile Curtiss, a fellow community leader. Or Mildred Whitman who had given birth to a son on the same day she gave birth to me, at the same hospital.

These Facebook opportunities, the chance to say a fleeting hello and touch base with far-flung friends is, for me, an incredible pick-me-up.

By bringing multitudes of people from outer space into my small room, I am still in the world, despite age and infirmities. There are endless possibilities for me.

I wish she could read my status update.

It would make her happy to know that, at ninety, I am very happy.


  1. Do you think Nana would have been a blogger like you, or would she have been more of a voyeur like me?

  2. I think she would have been the next step beyond blogger, a step that none of us could even begin to visualize.Those of you grandchildren knew her as an old woman. In her prime, she was a trail blazer. I think she was a feminist when there was no such phrase. And I guess it is thinking that she lived in the wrong time for her brain that makes me sad, and what the blog was (supposed to be) about.

  3. I think my grandmother would have been happy to see so many of us (her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) connected on FB. It's true, it's an amazing thing. I like your blog! Keep up the great work!