My uncle just left this morning on his return trip home after visiting family and friends east of the mighty Mississippi. He makes this drive, from Portales, New Mexico, at least once a year. I never really knew him that well growing up, but the advent of the internet enabled us to establish a relationship. We began emailing each other in the early 90's and have enjoyed corresponding and visiting ever since. My youngest, who shares a name with his great uncle, enjoys visiting and talking to him. They share a love for science and it is neat to watch them chat. As my uncle does not have any grandchildren, my three have become his surrogate grandkids and he will often bring them books or other small trinkets when he visits. I send him photos of them, school or sport pictures usually, and he has remarked how much he enjoys receiving them.
And all of this was made possible by the internet. Many times I wonder at how the internet and other communication technologies might be harming our ability to interact in more personal and meaningful ways. This is one case where technology helped to foster a relationship that otherwise might have remained superficial.
So, for today, hurray for email! It gave my kids a relationship with an extra older family member who loves them, listens to them and accepts them just as they are.