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E-mail doesn't help granddad say goodbyes


November 18, 2001

It's no news flash that the United States is a mobile society. In fact, the country's mobility is one of its most prominent characteristics. We stopped staying down on the farm long ago.

Academics and social commentators long have examined this phenomenon, looking under every statistical rock to see how our quick feet have changed the way we live. A major effect, of course, was on the nuclear family.

At one point in our nation's history, you could find several generations of the same family toiling the same plot of land. The industrial age, the automobile, interstate highways, the airplane all put greener pastures within easy reach. People started to spread out.

After all, we remained just an e-mail away.

I always had a casual interest in such stuff. No one in my immediate family had yet to cross state lines, though many of them are darn close. Living in Tallahassee, they are just a short shot down the newly four-lane Thomasville Road to Georgia.

Still, they remain just a half-day away, even if the drive up Interstate 75 and across Interstate 10 really drains that half-day. Besides, if you made the trip, you could also watch the Seminoles play. That's normally great fun, even though this season has offered reason to leave the champagne uncorked.

Well, all that has changed suddenly. Mobility has hit home. My daughter and her husband are moving to North Carolina. Moreover, they are taking their two kids with them.

Nuts.

I don't know how I am going to handle that. I don't know how my wife is going to handle it either. She has fallen into such a deep funk that it is hard to get through to her.

If you know David, 5, and Alex, 2, you would understand our glum moods. If you are grandparents, too, you sure won't have a hard time sympathizing.

I have three other grandkids, all in Tallahassee. They are terrific. They make the frequent Tallahassee trips worth it. But they have always been in Tallahassee. I got used to it.

On the other hand, David and Alex have never lived farther away than Apopka. In fact, they recently moved just blocks away from us in Altamonte Springs. Then came the great job offer for my son-in-law in Charlotte.

Talk about mixed feelings. Whenever I got down, I could scoot over to see David and Alex. They always made my day. Even when they were too busy to pay much mind to the old guy, they were fun to be around.

Now I can just sit home and mope.

David asked his grandmother if she would be upset when he moved.

She said she sure would. She wouldn't be able to see him every day.

That being the case, he wondered aloud "if I should get a new grandpa and grandma."

Well, when pressed on that issue a couple of days later, David reassured us, "I'll probably keep these ones."

That's good news.

And boy, guys — do I need some good news.

Let's see. You go north on I-95 to I-26 in South Carolina, then over to I-77 at Columbia, then . . .

Jim Toner can be reached at jtoner@orlandosentinel.com or 407-772-8034.

By Jim Toner. Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel


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