The best birthday present of all arrived yesterday - on her way home from her honeymoon. (They went to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia the cheap way.) My niece and her husband did a huge detour and a night's stopover just so that they could see her grandfather.
The rest of us said absolutely nothing about this. It was touch and go until the very last minute as her mother is seriously ill and they may have needed to go straight home. Frantic messages backwards and forwards from her family in Sydney reassured her however and she came to see "Granddad" because he had missed the wedding.
"I wanted to see you! Talking on the 'phone is not the same." And it is not. My father talks to her father each week. They usually chat for about an hour. My father 'phones my other sister in another state to reassure himself. That conversation is shorter but it keeps him in touch. It is not the same as seeing them. I wonder sometimes if we should get Skype, especially now there is a great-grandchild due. However, my father cannot manage basic computer skills and the thought of trying to teach him to use Skype fills me with mild alarm.
The two of them had a few precious hours in one another's company. They talked - stopping barely long enough to eat - and then talked some more. The questions came one after the other, unlike the shorter telephone conversations. It is much harder to respond when you do not see the person at the other end. There are all sorts of little cues that you miss. They held hands, shared the photographs stored in her camera and hugged more than once.
Modern technology is wonderful. It is amazing. It does extraordinary things but it is not the same as seeing each other. Most important of all it does not allow you to hug each other.