Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Sometimes it isn’t healthy to have too much time to just sit and think, to muse over life, where we are going, where we have been. Spending six days and nights in a hospital room, not as the patient, but just as the advocate, (a visitor in charge of reams of paperwork!), one has a great deal of time to just Think! Goodness, when the lights are low and a soft hum of comforting voices comes from the nurses station, the mind goes in all sorts of directions. Often I found myself reliving the sweet past. A time when my grandchildren occupied one of the most important parts of our lives.
Have you ever asked yourself, where did they go? Those dear children whose lives are no longer occupied with Barbie dolls, play houses, Princess Movies, or Legos, Blues Clues, and Thomas Trains. When did they disappear? Some moment in time while I had my head turned ever so briefly? Wait! I had just shelved her favorite storybook, and put away his matchbox cars. They disappeared while I was looking for something to replace the Monopoly game. I took too long, and when I looked again, they were grown.
I never understood what an ugly word that is. Grown. No wonder it is also spelled Groan, for that is what my heart does whenever I stop and realize that in this game of Hide and Seek, I may never find them. The children are gone. They’ve vanished into the Land of Oz (or Apple), a falsely magical world of technology that seems to have captured their interest so completely that there is little room for conversation or conviviality, and the giggles and belly laughs are sweet echoes I fear I’ll never hear again.
In the dim light before dawn, am I dreaming? I want to reach out and touch the tops of those beautiful heads, now constantly bent over some electronic device that is sucking them away from me. I will not be surprised to see them disappear one day, swallowed up by some brightly lit screen, the soles of their high heels or high tops the last thing I glimpse. Gone. Poof! Caught up in an information bubble that promises a cure for boredom. Have you traveled in a car for even short distances with a young person lately? Do you realize they are completely oblivious to their surroundings? To the fields of clover, the grazing cattle, the windmills or skyscrapers that are the landscape of our lives. Instead, they are focused, heads bowed, eyes downcast; Slaves to their master, the IPhone! Or the Android! It even sounds sinister, doesn’t it?
I pray for a vaccine that will spread throughout society, an inoculation against “celebrity fever” and that careless unconcern that seems to be a hallmark of today’s youth. I want to cry out, “You are missing life!” The best, brightest, freshest years of your life are being lived through some shorthand code, are being captured and taken prisoner by “selfies” and “Instagram.” Your friends aren’t flesh and blood, but characters making funny faces or “holding a pose.” And this I know. All those digital images, which will “be out there forever,” can never replace one photo album nor one scrapbook lovingly compiled and that you can hold on your lap, dream and reminisce over. Something concrete you can share with living, breathing, family and friends; People who are truly Present in your lives, whose laughter you can hear instantly, whose eyes you can see shine at the memories conjured by the photos you share.
So, how did we go from Telly Tubbies to tank tops and from Ninja Turtles to tuxedos overnight? When did I discover that those wonderful, funny, goofy kids who fell off the couch laughing as I read Uncle Remus tales have become “pods” themselves, victims of some electronic invasion of the Body Snatchers?  Who are these big people with such long arms and big feet who look something like the little people who were my grandchildren? They are really not yet Grownups. They are just growing…upwards…and in different directions. Grownups? Nah. Aliens? Maybe. But they most certainly are still precious to us. And they are slowly becoming Adults.
In these last few weeks since Bill was first diagnosed with a brain tumor and quickly operated on, family, including those very busy almost-grown grandchildren, have surrounded us with a beautiful cloud of love. Our daughters, an ever-present force buzzing about, first at the hospital bedside, then making arrangements for our comfort, meeting with doctors and then visiting with our wonderful friends, and ensuring that our freezer and refrigerator is full. One of the most important activities these two beautiful women (my “girls”) have performed is to create a Calendar which will help guide us through the next important weeks, and that they will check in often to see that their old parents are still on the right track! We love that you will always be at the other end of that crazy FaceTime line; just an IPhone or an Android call away. Lol.
And till then, we thank God for you. You are each such a marvelous gift, such a blessing in our lives. Daughters, Sons-in-law, and Grands. And Friends! We pray that the Holy Spirit will live in you, and that you, too, like us, may have Peace and also, Joy. Thank you. Thank you for your loving care.