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‘MY GROWING ATTACHMENT’

'The effects of out-migration as told by a grandmother who is experiencing it’

I was ready to turn on my computer, a communication tool that enables me, as it does millions of others, to keep in touch with the world. There is also endless information at our fingertips. Even those who said they never would learn to use a computer are now using one daily.

Through this electronic box I connect with friends, send greeting cards and letters, pay bills, and display, through my photography, the stunning beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador. It makes my writing much easier than using a typewriter, causing me to think back on the days before going to nursing school when I studied a business course and learned to type on manual typewriters with no letters on the keys.

My computer station is a place where I spend considerable time, writing, researching, and communicating with others. And, strange as it may sound, I have become attached to ‘attachments’, especially those from my daughter who, like so many young people, has left for greener pastures to make a life for themselves.

For those not computer oriented let me explain that strange statement. First of all, when you open your computer mailbox you find a list of messages, the same as you would find in your post office box, just in a different form. You have to filter through and discard what does not interest you, and then you get to the mail that looks like it needs your attention. A computer e-mail letter with an ‘attachment’ is the same as receiving mail through the ordinary means with a photo or other pleasant messages in the same envelope. On the computer, mail containing photos is marked with a little paperclip drawing. When I see that my heart skips a beat and I go immediately to the message where I see my daughters’ name, and the tiny paper clip, telling me there are photos attached.

My daughter, her husband, and little girl, and also our son, live far away in Western Canada. I miss them, want to be with them, to be part of their lives as they wish to be part of ours. But it is not to be so we use photos, cards, phone calls and of course our computers and e-mails. To see their names, and that minuscule ‘paper clip’ icon, means they have sent photos that give us an idea of how they are doing, how their lives are progressing, the new house, and for us our only grandchild, a precious little girl named Kylee. I click on the paperclip drawing, study the photos, then save them. Later my husband and I watch them as a slide show, and we are always quiet when we do this, each lost in our own thoughts and special memories.

A few days ago I started a project. Our granddaughter will be five years old soon. I went back to her first Christmas when she was just a month old, and we visited her in Calgary. Neither my daughter nor I had a computer then, so the photos were all carefully placed in albums, and treated with loving care. When we returned home, and finally got our computer, we could see Kylee grow with each photo we received. Then she came for a visit to Newfoundland when she was about a year and a half old, and we took more photos of her various activities. So, yes, I started a project that keeps growing, as I placed photos in an album on the computer, enabling me to share them with others, and of course with little Kylee. It took hours and hours, but it is complete now. Kylee has been shown the album by her Mom, and she wants to know who the baby is in the photos. She cannot understand that the tiny baby she sees is really herself.

As I did the project, I realized what an attachment I have to this small child who is, like her mother and grandmother, strong-willed and determined, creative and sensitive. I also realized that she is growing up so fast. One of the last photos to go in the virtual album was of Kylee helping make muffins. She is wearing a bib apron her Auntie Joan made for her, and in that way she is so like me, her grandmother, who loves bib aprons. In another of the latest ‘attachment’ photos she is sitting back on her feet on her parents bed completely engrossed in a book, again like her mother and me. She is my ‘attachment’, both by lineage and by a computer ‘paper clip’ icon.

By the time I had completed the photo project I had made a decision. I decided that I can no longer watch my sweet grandchild grow by ‘attachment’. I want to hold her, read to her, bathe her, take her to the park, cuddle her, make her laugh, take her shopping and be a real, bona fide grandmother. My ‘attachment’ is growing, and she will not remember me when I visit. She will be a few days getting to know her Nanny and Poppy again.

Something no ‘paper clip’ can provide is that human touch, that sweet smell of freshly shampooed hair, the sharing of a ball of play dough, our hands working together, the warmth of her body as she leans into me and listens to a story I read to her, hearing her giggle when something amuses her and the soft touch of her skin and curly hair. That is the attachment that I long to experience.

I am a new grandmother, but I am unable to show my love to this tiny life that has enhanced mine. The computer keeps me attached with photos, and my heart keeps me attached with love, a love so strong, so intense, that nothing less than holding Kylee’s little hand will soothe the yearning I feel.

So, Kylee, we will visit you in that place far away. Your Nanny needs and wants to be with you, even if for a short time. Then we won’t need the ‘paper clip’, we will be together, attached by a secure love, a love so strong that a computer can never express it, but your Nanny can and will.

Until then I will look for the paper clips, and the photographs that cause my heart to dance, and my tears to fall, as I see my ‘growing attachment’ on a computer screen.

I am so grateful for a computer with the technology that allows me to send and receive those little paper clips to keep us connected.


Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe

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