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by Carol Elaine Loperena

Edited by JoySoul Staff

cassettes with ear buds

My mother-in-law is one of the most progressive elderly grandmas that I know. At 87, she has a smart TV and a Kindle, and she even watches 3D movies with us. It wasn't always that way. For when Oma, as we affectionately call her, had to move up north to an apartment near us a Kindle was the farthest thing from her mind. When Opa passed away we knew she would need more support than we could offer long distance. Florida to North Dakota is a long way when things aren't going well and help is needed. So having her nearby turned out to be a very good decision for all of us.

But leaving her home of 60 years was difficult. Not only did she have to leave behind the place where many memories were made and shared with her husband, but she left behind a house where all her familiar things were in their familiar places. Some days she even felt like she was in a foreign country called North Dakota, like after her first trip to the grocery store. We walked through a different store with different kinds of foods where every item was in a different place than she expected. The clincher was when we left our bags with the bag boy and walked out without our groceries. Then we fetched our car and drove through the drive-through where the bag boy loaded up our car with our groceries! I explained to her that in North Dakota a store doesn't want to send their bag boys or girls out in the ice, wind and snow in -30 degree weather.    

Blending Familiar with Unfamiliar

Traversing The Unknown

As Oma spent time in her apartment alone we felt like TV wasn't interactive enough and my husband started talking to her about having a Kindle. No, she didn't need it, couldn't learn it, and it was too much money was the first reaction. But we continued to try to convince her that she could learn it and that learning things at her age is important for the mind to stay alert. We persevered and finally purchased the Kindle. Each week my husband spent time in a Kindle lesson with his mom. And gradually she became able to access and enjoy music and information from all over the world, including her native Germany.

Relishing The Familiar

Fast forward to 5 years later. Christmas is rolling around again. Our simple boombox that we passed on to Oma when she moved here had long since broken and the cassette player in it hadn't worked for years. Wouldn't it be nice to get her a new boombox for her to play the special favorite CDs and cassettes of the season; if they still made boomboxes, that is. Lo and behold the online stores still sold just the thing! Not many, mind you, but a good quality boombox was available. I'll never forget how happy and even comforted Oma was when my husband got it set up for her. She played it so much the first week that the batteries wore out!

Blending Ways

Familiar songs from our childhood...familiar customs in church like the liturgy we grew up with...familiar people like the friends and family that have known us for what seems like forever. If we took out all the familiar things in our lives, then we would be missing out on a rich part of our heritage and personality. Still, if we took out the many things new to our world, life might feel regressive and incomplete. Kindles, Nooks or iPads, for instance, add another dimension to the time-honored mediums of books and TV without replacing them. Lately I’ve been taking a lot of pleasure in my vintage vinyl record collection yet I still enjoy playing fun games on my smartphone.

Think about the things from by-gone days that are important to you. What pictures and memories come to mind? As you recall times past, remember to cherish and honor where you came from. Think about the things that you haven’t yet discovered in today’s world. What are some of the things you would like to do but haven’t yet attempted? Make a plan to learn and conquer at least one new thing this year. You may surprise everyone around you. Better yet, you may surprise yourself!