It was 4.31 am. I was lying on my back, wide awake in a hospital room. Both feet were in booties attached to a pressure pump, my two legs were safely strapped to a sort of block cushion and the pain relief was not exactly working. My new right hip joint was exactly thirteen hours old.
Aha! I switched on the light, picked up my phone and sent a rather grumpy text, full of emoticons, to my daughters. That felt good. I knew their phones would be turned to silent but just after 7 o’clock I heard the welcome pings of their replies.
That’s one reason why I love my phone. It provided comfort and relief from the claustrophobic post-operative three days in hospital.
That period was an extension of the almost daily contact that I, living in Melbourne, have with my daughters via text and Instagram. My son, in Perth, is more reticent . We text less and talk more. Our oldest daughter and her partner have recently adopted a rescued greyhound, Toby, who is now our designated grandpuppy. I receive pictures and comments about him and his enormous cuteness. We exchange chit chat about work, the weather- she rides her bike to work- plans, the TV we watch. Our younger daughter has two small children aged one and nearly five and lives on Phillip Island. Practically every day we talk via text. She sends pictures of the children, herself at Surfing Mums, shares stories about them and shows what she’s picked from the veggie garden.
I think back to the late seventies when I had the two girls and the late sixties when I had my son. My parents lived in Eaglehawk, one hundred miles north of Melbourne, and I would ring Mum once a week on a long distance call. It felt special as it was expensive to us at that time and I would have to wait for the cheaper evening rates. I would have loved to have had the casual, instant, easy contact that a mobile phone offers, especially when we went to the UK for three years with my two year old son. There were times when I really wanted to share something special or was lonely or bored and wanted to just talk to her about my children. Email would have been wonderful.
This family contact via smart phone continues with Instagram. I have a whole three followers, my two daughters and the friend who showed me how to do it. One daughter, who I introduced to Instagram, now claims that I have made her addicted to its curious pleasures. My friends are strangely uninterested in my Instagram efforts! My initial focus was plane trees and paths, both of which I, at least, am interested in. I’ve gradually extended my range of images as I developed my interest in urban nature on my writing website.
My daughters are polite with their ‘Likes’ but themselves are very unrestrained with their posts about family, dogs, guinea pigs and whatever they’re doing. I learnt how to do hash tags and was amazed to discover the number of people who are unable to resist #sunset and proceeded to ‘like’ my image. I then realized that I felt uncomfortable with complete strangers looking into my world and stopped hash tagging. Three viewers are fine!
I have two games I play by myself, Solitaire and Mahjong. These have filled in a lot of time in waiting rooms and so on. More fun is Word which I play with one friend living just 40 metres away and the other half way round the world in Wales. I enjoy sitting up in bed in the morning seeing what astonishing word my Welsh friend has produced overnight.
Mostly, however, I love and value the way my phone has enabled the relaxed, close contact with my family.