I spent a nice day with my mother and sister last Sunday. We did the usual things like eating lunch, chatting, and watching “I Love Lucy” reruns. Sometimes we do errands, little household chores or yard work, but today the weather was hot and extremely windy so we sort of lazed around the house. We also did a little cyber sleuthing of sorts, and it was quite the highlight of the day! My mother is not into computers. That’s an understatement. She practically loathes them and thinks that my sisters and I are addicted to them. I’m sure she’s right about that to some degree, but I always counter with the fact that I spend less time on the computer than she spends watching television. I don’t actually say that to her, of course, but I do tell my sisters my thoughts on the matter.
As for the cyber sleuthing, I started off showing her that we could Google Earth her house. She was amazed that her house was visible online! Next, we moved on to several of my old places of residence, and those of my sister, Janet. Then, we took the ultimate Google trip and ended up on the street where my mother grew up: Downing Street, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida! My mother wasn’t creeped out by it at all! In fact she loved seeing how the neighborhood had improved a little in the 30 years since my grandmother died. We spun a 360 and looked at all of the nearby houses, then took a few turns and ended up on Canal Street where the grocery store still stood. It is no longer Sorrell’s, and no longer a grocery store, but the building is there, complete with its’ upper level apartment. We could see some of the pretty palm trees that line that downtown street, as well as some railroad tracks. I won’t go into all of the nitty gritty details, but each of those landmarks holds strong memories and meanings for us. For my 87-year-old mother it was a delightful virtual reality trip that seemed to make the internet an okay place for a while.
On the drive home I thought about how much fun we’d had peeking at New Smyrna, and reminiscing about the days when my grandmother and all of her friends lived there. It makes you think about silly things like sidewalks, shrubs, houses that needed painting, porches that got screened in. It almost made me wonder if the old neighborhood misses my family. I’m sure that some essence of our being still resides there with the brick and mortar. Fashions change, people die, and buildings crumble or get swept away in storms, but that intangible essence of life must hang in the air on some level. If not, then it’s just too sad to think about. I know that the joy on my mother’s face was tangible that afternoon. And to think, it was all possible by way of the cyber highway! Viva la Google!