We've come this far by technology...
It's been almost two years since I accompanied mom to Best Buy to get a new computer and the AT&T store to get smartphones for her and daddy. That was followed by a week of playing the geek squad to get them all set up.
They are all up to date with acronyms and buzzwords - daddy just started using LOL, and mom has learned what a selfie is. Now they own tablets and got them without my assistance.
We've come a long way...
In September 1997, a month after my wedding, I was living in Okinawa, Japan. Postage was $.32. My first snail mail letter from mom starts,
First, tell son-in-law I said hello and that he should practice calling us Pam and Rick. By the time he gets back it will be comfortable.
Snail mail with a 3-week turn around response time was our main correspondence. Once a week and only for a few minutes we would talk on the phone. AT&T charged a monthly fee of $3.00 for international calls and then it was $.48 a minute for mom and I to talk.
February 1999 (3-page handwritten letter from daddy)
I've been wanting to write you a letter but as usual I don't have a stamp. [...] Well, I bought a stamp at lunch time. Paid for it with my last dollar and I have two weeks to go before pay day. [...]
For six months until I found a job over there, I would go the the library and type letters to mail home.
May 27, 1998 (mom from work)
The highlight of my day is coming in and seeing an e-mail from you.
One time I was at work early and she was at work late and we had our first synchronous communication.
After I got a computer at home (an e-mail from daddy dictated to mom) read:
Glad you are enjoying your new toy. Although we don't have a computer, we can still communicate electronically and we didn't have to pay $3000 to do it! I am still not convinced we need one.
By 1999 we both had Gateway computers at home and there was no more snail mail. On mom's Friday night and my Saturday morning we would get online to ICQ with each other. We also had video phone but the voice was terribly delayed. We chatted on ICQ and switched to just waving at each other through the webcam.
In February 1999 daddy tried to send me an e-mail from his job. Mom e-mails:
Your dad had written a response to your letter but he called and said, "It won't go." I said, "What do you mean, it won't go?" He said, "The e-mail! It won't send!" The letter he had written at work was too big and it wouldn't send. So he printed it and brought it home for me to type up.
The last letters in my collection from mom are dated 1999. Though they were e-mails, by that point, I couldn't keep up with printing them anymore. My collection is filled with advice, recipes, gossip, cards, church bulletins, newspaper clippings of comics and updates on The Bold and the Beautiful.
August 1999 - two years living away
After what must have been a soggy phone call for the both of us, mom wrote:
We had a hard time this morning didn't we? But at least we have several ways to communicate. We're spoiled. Just think, we didn't always have the option to get on the Internet at all, much less switch from ICQ, to video phone, to MSN instant message [...]
Love you, TTFN!
How cool is it that we used TTFN in 1999!
14 years later...
So we still live away, thankfully in the same time zone. It's wonderful having mom and dad at my fingertips.
Here's the downside...
I've threatened to call the "carbon monoxide police" on them because I hadn't heard from them for an entire day. One MIA day when mom finally checked in, she texted, "We've been having a Breaking Bad marathon."
If I was a teenager I would have totally died, but parents of grown children are truly friends. If you're lucky, they are your BFFs.
Here's the thing... Technology has taken a lot away in how we talk to each other but it's also given us plenty of ways to communicate.