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Donna Barker

Keeping the distance in perspective

One week ago, I was playing with my granddaughters in the warm sunshine of Salt Lake City, Utah. The grass in their backyard was green … trees were budding ... purple and yellow flowers were blooming ... temperatures were in the high 60s. We played kickball and hide-go-seek. We looked for insects. We drew with chalk on the patio steps. We laughed loudly. We snuggled closely.

That afternoon, while 2-year-old Brooklyn napped and 5 year-old Brynnan was in kindergarten, I rested in the backyard glider, soaking up the sunshine and contemplating what it would be like to live full time in Salt Lake City, near our daughter Clarissa, son-in-law, Ryan, and their girls.

But Salt Lake City is a long ways from the Midwest, where my other granddaughters, Addi, 6, and Emma, 5, live with their parents, our daughter and son-in-law, Anjee and Dan. And then there is our daughter, Lisa, who lives in Seattle.

The United States is way too big of a country for me sometimes.

But on the positive side, because of our children, we have traveled much more of this country than we probably would have otherwise.

When the news came out this week about the horrible mudslides in the state of Washington, about an hour north of Seattle, I could easily picture the area because we have driven near there with Lisa. When West Virginia had its water problems earlier this year, I paid close attention because our daughter Anjee and her family had lived in West Virginia once. The Park City, Utah, area where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held? We’ve been there several times while visiting Clarissa and her family.

So having kids spread throughout the country isn’t all bad, I guess.

In many significant ways, my world vision and awareness has been magnified through our children who have lived around the United States and traveled oversees a lot more than I have.

In comparison to when I was growing up with long-distance relationships with my own grandparents, I’m so thankful to live in this age of technology when family visits can be just a click away through cell phones, texting, FaceTime and Skype.

On Sunday evening, after our bags were unpacked, our Utah family called us for FaceTime. We laughed together again. We talked about all we had done together that week. As any proud grandmother, I marveled again at how brilliant and charming our grandchildren are.

Looking back on our life as parents, I know we no doubt made some mistakes along the way raising our kids. But one thing we are sure we did right was to give our daughters the freedom to follow their own paths, even if those paths led them away from us.

But with the help of technology, we know we are blessed because that distance has only been in miles.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.