Betty Keeton raised her family in Dayton. Her two daughters and son were lively youngsters, and Betty can remember singing in the choir and seeing her young son crawling under the pews of the church. She laughs now as she shares that he is now a pastor himself, living in New Jersey. Betty’s two daughters have also moved away, to Florida and Tennessee. Betty, now in failing health, has remained in Dayton where she receives so much support from church friends who have become like family. While she enjoys a steady stream of visitors, she surrounds herself with images of her offspring, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in her room at The Sanctuary.
It’s Friday morning and Betty is looking forward to visiting with her granddaughter and two great-grandchildren. Betty is in Ohio while they are in Virginia. Betty has never seen these great-grandchildren in the flesh, but thanks to technology and Hospice of Dayton volunteer Lee Seoh, this Grandmother and granddaughter enjoy regular family visits. Lee supervises the computer Skype connection enabling Betty and her great-grandchildren to share some quality time together, seeing each other and catching up to date. At the sound of her grandson Gavin’s voice, Betty’s face lights up and she is amazed to see how much he has grown since their last Skype visit. Granddaughter Kristie holds up the baby, Kylie, to show off her “chunky, soccer thighs” to Betty, who beams.
Kristie shares updates on family vacation plans, 4-year old Gavin’s obsession with the movie “Cars,” and the possibility of a new assignment for her husband, Jeff, who is in the Navy. Then she asks “how are you feeling? Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing to feel better, Grandma?”
“Kind of,” Betty replies, laughing. “I’m feeling like when you’re turning 80 you should be able to do whatever you want to do.” Kristie laughs and agrees, finding no argument to counter her Grandmother’s logic.
Betty relishes these visits, grinning from ear to ear at the antics of the children who are happy to show off for Great-Grandma even if she is thousands of miles away. The sound of children’s laughter, the joys of every day conversation, the connections of generations serve to sustain us all, even when those connections come by way of computer screen.