Monday, May 9, 2011

Off the Grid, In more ways than one!

Last week we were in Spain. It wasn’t a vacation, but we were there for family reasons. My husband is the only child, and his parents live over 3,000 miles away in Madrid. As they age, and as health problems come up, it has been a challenge figuring out how to handle life’s little problems, and a puzzle working out how we will handle everything in the future. Right now we are struggling with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, a recent fall, and all those other little things that come along with aging parents. But, life is good, and we have come up with some solutions for the present time. We’ll see what the next few years will bring us…

And so, as we set off to Europe, I had lots of plans for staying connected. After all, I had an iPhone, and there are internet cafés and WiFi everywhere, right? I had the best intentions of keeping up this blog, and sending regular messages home, and keeping up with email… and then life’s little realities hit again. Our iPhones don’t work in Europe, and most of the free WiFi in Madrid requires registering with your national identification card (which only Spaniards have). We had plans to connect the grandparents with a new laptop so we could Skype back and forth across the Atlantic, but there was no easy way to get a modem installed within our one week in Madrid. But we did get our questions answered for some preparatory work to be done before our next trip (phone jacks will need to be installed by an electrician ahead of our next visit, arrangements made with an internet carrier ahead of time, etc).

So I decided to just enjoy our visit with family- off the grid. No checking email, no posting to the blog, no checking Facebook. And not only that, I was at a disadvantage when it came to TV and newspaper because my Spanish is poor and I was tired of asking Hubby to translate. So with the Royal Wedding, Bin Laden’s death, and all the other news that happened last week I just absorbed a little and enjoyed not worrying about the media. We didn’t travel to villages for genealogy research, nor did we visit the National archives.
Four generations playing dominos together!

If I had been home, all these little news stories would have had me running to Google, watching CNN, buying newspapers... Instead I decided to spend the time talking with relatives, poring over old family photos, visiting cousins, and just enjoying life’s little moments. I was in Madrid! It was time to enjoy trips to the pub for tapas, taking siestas, walking the neighborhood during the evening paseos, and long games of dominos. May is lovely in Madrid! As a genealogist, this was invaluable information I was gleaning from cousins, elderly people, and even from the neighbors at the pub. Without a single trip to an archive or church registry, I was able to fill in the details about life in Spain and in the family without adding a date to the family tree. ¡There is always mañana!

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Lovely, Heather. Sorry about the difficulties, but you are so right about enjoying the moment.

  2. You certainly must have been busy. At least there was some fun with family, and hopefully you and your husband were able to attend to all of the important family matters.

    Yes, there was quite the media circus over the past week. Phew! Rather glad it's calming down.

  3. Glad everything worked out for you and the family. Sometimes being off the grid is very rejuvenating! Welcome back home!

  4. When time ran short in PA one year I made a conscious decision to spend the time with the then living elder members of my collaterally lined family.
    I said the Library and Court House I would hope be there next visit.
    It was the best decision I made. Many of those people are gone now and I would never have had the knowledge they gave me first hand from a book or court paper. There are times to disconnect and just be self. Glad you had such a good time. Hope you make it to Burbank.

  5. Getting off the grid is sometimes a relief when there's too much going on. Glad you enjoyed your relaxing chats and the dominoes! Jo