I am subscribed to about 2,000 RSS feeds and on the rare days that I’m able to read through even a fourth of them I always feel that every thought that could be said already has been said, and probably a million times over. And so, weighed down by so much information, I put on my jacket to go for a walk through the cobblestone streets.
Hunched over on their wooden canes, peering out of second story windows and lonely shops, fingering for change in their purses, are dozens of old porteños and porteñas who lived through Juan Perón and Evita, La Guerra de las Malvinas, the Dirty War, neo-liberalization, and the 2001 debt default.
These viejitos and viejitas sipping mate through their stained teeth and dentures are living stories waiting too unfold. Unfortunately I have neither the courage nor tact nor (I tell myself) time to offer them a cup of coffee and take in their stories along with a plate of alfajores. If only they had blogs …
María Amelia López Solino, the grandmother blogger, has died at 97-years-old. Winner of the 2007 BOBs Awards for best Spanish-language blog this loquacious and restless mind leaves behind a blog with nearly 1.5 million visits and thousands of comments from all five continents. Born in Muxía (A Coruña) on the 23rd of December 1911, she was the oldest blogger anywhere in the world. On December 26, 2006 her grandson wrote me an e-mail asking me to introduce her blog to cyberspace and I didn’t hesitate. And so started her impressive adventure in the blogosphere:
Today is my birthday and my stingy grandson gave me a blog. I hope to write a lot and tell the experiences of a woman my age […] I’ve been socialist since I was 16 and enchanted to be so, but it has brought me many quarrels. I was fined without being immoral […] My grandson says you will comment on many things, so I can see all the power of this Internet. Oh, if my father was watching!!!
Her last three years had been very intense and she always praised the merits of the Internet and the thousands of friendships she made through the Web but a few months ago she already warned that her strength and humor were escaping her:
I was sick and still am, I feel very bad. And I have no desire to speak or go anywhere; not the hairdresser, or anwyere. The humor is gone. I am in pain and discomfort. […] They say that God is giving me energy and life to enjoy, and that he can call when I want. No, I did not ask any of that from God. I ask nothing else than to not give me pain and to take away this great sadness I have …
María Amelia, with your 35,579 days of passionate life, rest in pace.
It was through María Amelia’s blog (which I’ve spent the past few hours exploring) that I discovered “Ando en Internet“, a series of new media workshops organized by PAMI, Argentina’s National Institute of Social Services for Retirees and Pensioners. In October of last year Monica, the facilitator of the workshops, wrote an entry titled “For Amelia” on their group blog:
Amelia is Spanish. She was 95-years-old when her grandson gave her a blog. She was weary at the beginning, but she did it, and she kept on going with the help of her grandson. Since we first began our workshops on the internet, Amelia from Spain has accompanied us without knowing it, but she has …
In October, when we celebrate Mother’s Day in Argentina, we gathered all of our thanks and admiration and set out to record a message in the middle of our class. Last Thursday and Friday we dedicated a bit of our class to Amelia. After reading her blog, and noting her email, we decided that we wanted to say something from this side of the Atlantic. 🙂
Watching that video, reading the long, excited comment that Amelia left on the post, and knowing today that Amelia is no longer with us, it’s hard to not feel the throat constricting.
This is far from the first time I have lamented the fact that so few grandparents are blogging. There are some notable exceptions like Olive who blogged up until her death late last year at 107 years of age. An article from USA Today in 2005 points to others, but still, it seems these are the exceptions, not the rule. Next week I will head Uruguay to observe a team of volunteer university students teaching schoolchildren how to blog. I hope that they, in turn, might teach their parents and grandparents how to share their stories as well.
And if not, well, Juliana is right … we’ll soon be grandparents ourselves before we know it.