Conversations With My Grandmother

I keep having a conversation with my grandmother. She is unhappy with the quality of our relationship. She lives 2,000 miles away in Anchorage and I am here in Seattle. She thinks that I exclude her, and don’t discuss anything of substance with her. She mentions I don’t discuss my interests, friends, etc.

The Gap

For the entire time that I have known her she hasn’t remembered the names of any girlfriends, childhood friends, or interests of mine. I love movies. She hasn’t been in a theater in decades and wouldn’t know a DVD from a CD if her life depended on it. This is a disincentive to mentioning any of those things. We lack an opportunity for proximity unless I make the trek to AK. She wasn’t at any of my graduations, be it high school or college. That behavior is fine. What isn’t fine is behaving as if a phone based relationship is going to be the same as if I was around her everyday.

The Complication

I shared with her with the best example I know of, photography. I have over the last 10 years taken thousands of photographs. The bulk of them are online. She doesn’t have an email address, she is 76. Change is something that is opt in for her. That said, I can only bear so much of the burden for the style, quality and frequency of our communication. I don’t have to do what I currently do, which is talk to her every other day. I don’t talk to my FRIENDS that often.

I Tried…

I did the best I could to share my point of view with her in a respectful way. This is in large part to my recent effort to hold in my mind “What else could this mean?” when I run into challenging situations. I chose to believe that she wants to connect with me, and feels like I am cutting her out. There is a way to achieve what she wants, closeness. It will take effort on her part, and therein lies the rub. An email address. Even the GEICO cavemen have email. They text on mobile phones. Not cordless phones mind you, but MOBILE PHONES. I am Marty McFly, and she is my Biff Tannen.


The Author

Sean Oliver

Sean Oliver is a management consultant in Seattle, WA