Friday, November 2, 2012

The Power of the iPad

My niece Tiffany got married two weekends ago. The entire family was descending on the greater Richmond area -- from as far away as Alaska. It would be the first time my brothers and sisters, eight of us in all, would be together since my parents' 50th anniversary in 2005.

Some were flying or driving in on Thursday, the rest of us were to arrive on Friday. That was the plan at least.

On Wednesday, I got a text from my oldest niece: "Andrew has been throwing up since 1am. I'm so afraid we won't be able to go."

It was touch and go. I checked on my great-nephew throughout the day. It seemed to be a 12-hour bug. Rather than leave on Thursday from north of Syracuse and split the trip up, they decided to give him one more night's sleep in his bed and drive straight through on Friday.

I started my trek on Friday morning, with a brief stop in Baltimore to visit former co-workers. Halfway to Baltimore, I called Jenny's cell to see where they were. "Still in Central Square. Ryan's been throwing up all night."

And then the tears -- from both of us. And the inevitable realization that they would have to miss Tiffany's wedding.

I stopped in Baltimore, pulled out my iPad and checked flights from Syracuse to Richmond. On my way to Richmond, I talked to Jenny again. "Fly down tonight. I'll pay for your ticket."

I knew it was a long shot. She didn't want to leave her sick kids. I talked to her a couple times throughout the day. And as each new sibling arrived at the hotel, more tears, a few "doesn't it suck." And then sometime Friday night, I realized that Jenny could be at the wedding.

I texted her. "Is your Skype hooked up?"

At 1:30, Saturday afternoon, a half hour before the wedding, I was wandering in the empty church with my iPad, hoping my 3G would work within the walls of the brick building. It worked. I "walked" Jenny and the boys around the church so she could see all of her aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents.

"I'll call you in 30 minutes."

Thirty minutes later, my beautiful niece, all grown up, walked down the aisle and waved hello to my niece and great-nephews 500 miles away.

I watched Jenny and the boys watching the wedding. We cried at the same time, and I smiled as I watched -- but couldn't hear -- Jenny explain things to the boys as they were happening throughout the ceremony.

And then when the priest said, "let us pray," Ryan and Andrew went in praying mantis mode. Sometime during the prayer, Ryan's arms must have gotten tired and he put his right hand to his heart, like he was saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Another wave from the bride, going back down the aisle

The first dance (and crying one more time as we were missing Jenny and the boys)

It wasn't the ideal situation, but in a pinch, it worked.

Thank you Apple, thank you Skype -- for bringing my family together, in all one place, for this very important, once-in-a-lifetime event.