I’m amazed sometimes at what you can find in this Information Age (aka the Computer Age or the Digital Age). For example, when I was researching my blog last week, I needed to find out when exactly my paternal grandfather served in the Army. Now, I could have called my dad and asked. But I thought, why not try Googling it first.
So, Google it, I did. And I found a whole lot more than I bargained for. You see, my grandpa Manny died when I was not quite three. So, I really didn’t expect much. And I don’t really know much about him. His death, from colon cancer at the age of 55, was devastating to my father’s Spanish Catholic family. My grandfather was the patriarch. And his death impacted my father in very significant ways until he, himself, had reached his late 50s.
But Googling my grandfather turned up his service, his rank, his birth date (the same day as his wife, my grandmother, ironically, which I did not know), and his death date.
Even though I was a month shy of my third birthday, I remember the day my grandfather died. I even remember him, albeit vaguely. I remember asking him about his colostomy bag, in particular, as toddlers are wont to focus on bodily functions. And I remember hugging my grandmother as she cried after his death and telling her it would be okay because Grandpa was with God now. I’m sure I was just repeating something I overheard at the time, but the need to comfort was genuine.
As I said, I remember that day. And now I know exactly what day I was remembering. That’s powerful information.
During my search, I also found information about my great-grandmother’s death, which I remember better, as I was a teenager by then. But again, the date was fuzzy. Now, it’s clear. It frames the memory somehow.
Last week also marked the one-year anniversary of my maternal grandfather’s death. I wrote about him last year in this blog, which you can read here. But what struck me most about this event is that my reminder of his death came in the form of an email from the funeral home that buried him. It was titled, simply, “We Remember” and expressed the funeral home’s experience that the one-year anniversary of a loved one’s death is one of the most difficult times for the family. When I opened the email, I had two conflicting thoughts: One, that I couldn’t believe it has been a year since my grandfather died; and two, that’s some great customer service the funeral home provides. (When you work in a customer-focused industry, you can’t help but notice really good examples.)
As I said in the beginning of this blog, the Information Age is an amazing time. I can keep up with family members and friends who live far away. I know about classmates fighting cancer or getting divorced or celebrating the birth of a child, and I can interact with them in a way unheard of decades ago. We might be losing something, too, I’ll admit, but the gains far outstrip the losses, in my opinion.
Relationships with other people have changed in the Digital Age just as our relationship with books has. Ebooks have changed reading in ways no one thought possible even two decades ago. And I think in this, too, it is a change for the better. I’ll never stop reading print, mind you. It remains my first love. But ebooks open up the world to us. And that’s a true game-changer.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.