A Century of Love
Despite the years, some things never change

“Daddy, did Gigi Shirley FaceTime with her friends when she was little?”

Brandon and Adam are two lucky little boys. It so happens that they have two great grandmothers who both live just minutes away from them, and who are both turning 100 this year! Gigi is the term of endearment for both of them, so we use their first name to clarify who we are referencing. First up into the 100 club this year was Gigi Shirley, my maternal grandmother (later this year is Sarah’s maternal grandmother Doris).

We had been talking about marking her special milestone for weeks and were on our way to a birthday party when Adam asked about video chatting and his great grandmother. All I could do was smile at the question because his inquiry started a pretty long conversation filled with lots of amazement about the radical amount of change she has seen in her lifetime. 

Adam was shocked to learn that not only did Gigi Shirley not have FaceTime when she was born in 1924, but she didn’t even have a phone or TV in her house. Explaining that to him was something he just couldn’t wrap his head around. It seemed to open a Pandora’s box of questions in his brain about everything from “Well then how did she talk to people?” to “How did she watch Spiderman?” and “What did she do for fun?” I had to break it to him that there weren’t any televisions when she was born. Adam moved on from the technology questions to how we would fit so many candles onto the cake and how big the cake would be (good thing someone just got numbers instead of individual candles). Adam’s mind was moving super fast at this point so thankfully, we got to the party, and he saw that there was a big “100” on the cake, lots of balloons and decorations, plus his cousins were there, so he moved on.

But if I’m being honest, Adam’s questions made me stop and think too. Honestly, Gigi Shirley has seen so much in the last 100 years. And here I was trying to put it into concise statements and logical explanations for a 4-year-old. Through all the years and all the change that she has seen, she has adapted and embraced so much that she now is able to look into her smart phone and video chat with her great-grandchildren to hear about their day or just see them flash her a smile. She will randomly text me with messages for them and tell me she looks forward to me texting her back with videos or pictures of the boys so she can keep up with everything they are doing.

And it’s not just video chatting she has figured out. Recently, we took her out to dinner and she was chatting about signing up for digital coupons and alerts from a local restaurant. Then she took out her phone and showed us how to make sure we got the latest deals too. 

Later, when Gigi Shirley got back home from dinner, she pulled up her iPad for some mahjong before shutting down for the night. I think she might be better at technology than I am.

The choices she has actively made to continue to learn and grow and understand the rapid changes going on to the world, despite her own hesitations has allowed her to continue to stay connected to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I am in awe of how she is open to so much, and I hope to keep the same open mind and try to instill those same values in the boys. 

But no matter what has changed through the years, the one constant has been the love that she has for the people around her. I remind the boys just how lucky they are to have that, because I certainly know how lucky I am.


Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


May 2024
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