WILLIAMSTOWN — “Your daughter is a pistol,” a neighbor, David, said when phoning me Dec. 26.
Earlier in the day, I was sitting on the sofa in my condo, just daydreaming, when my daughter, Jennifer, phoned.
“Hi, Mom, there’s a gift for you at the door,” she said.
I asked if she had some newfangled device that shows when a gift she had ordered was delivered.
“No, I’m standing at your door holding your gift,” said Jennifer, who lives in Bayside, N.Y. (Jennifer and David had spoken briefly in the condo parking lot.)
I already had received several Christmas gifts from Jennifer, so, the newest one was a surprise, but not as big a surprise as Jenny appearing at my door.
It has been difficult to go without seeing each other during the pandemic, but we agreed that we had no choice. I am in the elder age group that is more vulnerable to deadly COVID-19. And I do not want Jennifer traveling under the circumstances.
Nonetheless, on Dec. 26, Jennifer was sitting on the stairs outside my condo suite, wearing a mask. Her first words were, “I’m not coming in.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have insisted, persuaded, cajoled Jennifer into staying overnight. After all, it is a 3½-hour drive between Bayside and Williamstown.
Sadly, COVID protocol is causing rifts in some families. I know that an adult son is not speaking to his mother because she won’t let him stay in her home. And a father moved his 21-year-old daughter into an apartment, as she disregards safety guidelines.
Jennifer and I physically distanced as she instructed me on the use of the gift she hand-delivered: a GrandPad. With this simple and secure tablet for senior citizens, it is easy to view photos and videos, play games, listen to music, check emails, make phone calls and video calls and more.
As soon as I was able to use the GrandPad without any help, Jennifer drove back to her home. (Air hugs and kisses.)
I made a video call to my granddaughter, Alyssa, whose twins, Ariana and Angelo, are 20 months old. I got a kick out of Ariana reading aloud a book I sent her for Christmas. She was so serious, eyes riveted to the pages, fingers running under the words, I felt that I should understand what she was saying.
Angelo threw me a kiss and then turned shy and buried his face in the sofa.
I caught my son, Christopher, unshaven, when I made a video call to him in his home on Long Island. It brought back memories of when he had grown a beard during the time he was working on his senior thesis at Williams College.
He told me his copy of the thesis was ruined when his apartment was flooded. I am going to send him the copy he gave to his father and me.
My cousin Rosemarie, who lives in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., was sitting in her living room when we connected on a video call. I admired a needlework hanging on the wall.
“It took me years to make it,” Rosemarie said.
“You haven’t seen my kitchen since it was redone.” Then she led me into the kitchen.
Her husband, Ed, a model airplane enthusiast was out “playing with his new toy.” He was standing on a hill flying his new drone. I could see him on my GrandPad.
There was a comforting feeling of normality — like when I used to stop for a visit on my way to see my children.
When Jennifer phoned and asked, “Has GrandPad helped raise your spirits?” I was able to say, “It truly does.”
“Have you played Scramble on the GrandPad?” Jennifer asked, knowing Scramble is a version of Scrabble, my favorite board game.
“Not yet,” I said, but I played blackjack. Jennifer was surprised that I liked blackjack.
“It’s fun,” I said,” especially when you don’t lose real money. “