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Living Grand: Haydee Hernandez

Haydee Hernandez's home was a bastion of generosity and warmth for her Granddaughters Michelle and Ammy

Growing up, Michelle Mack loved spending time at her grandmother’s house. Haydee Hernandez lived just a few blocks away, so Michelle would find herself there often. They’d watch the Tonight Show or Wheel of Fortune or whatever movie happened to be on TV. 

“I just think of her always being there for me,” Michelle said. “I would spend more time at my grandmother’s house than at my house. I just enjoyed her company. We loved hanging out together. Any time I had sleepovers or wanted to hang out with friends, it was always at Grandma’s.” 

Haydee was like that for Michelle’s older sister Ammy Cardona as well. When Ammy worked the early shift at McDonald’s in high school, she would stay at her grandparents’ house because it was just around the corner from the restaurant. In the morning, Haydee or her husband would drive Ammy to work at 5:30 rather than let her walk the 10 minutes to get there. 

“She was always the caretaker. Always looking out for everybody, making sure you had food,” Ammy said. “It didn’t matter if you had just eaten. If you went to her house, you were offered food and drink.” 

“She was always the caretaker. Always looking out for everybody, making sure you had food,” Ammy said. “It didn’t matter if you had just eaten. If you went to her house, you were offered food and drink.” 

Michelle, Ammy, and sister Jennifer Cole don’t see their grandmother as much as they used to. All three sisters have successful careers in the United States Air Force. Michelle is currently stationed in Hawaii, Ammy is in California, and Jennifer is in New Jersey. Haydee, 88, was never particularly tech savvy, so communication was for years limited to phone calls and the occasional video chat when Haydee’s daughter was available to handle the technical details. Haydee could receive photos on her cell phone, but they were too small for her to see clearly, so her granddaughters worried she was missing out on key moments. . 

Filling a hole

Michelle learned about GrandPad from a friend about a year and a half ago and thought a tablet built with seniors in mind might work well for Haydee. Michelle’s mother helped set up the device, and Haydee took to it quickly. She loves playing casino games on her GrandPad, but the biggest benefit has been the communication GrandPad has made possible. While Michelle called Haydee frequently prior to introducing her grandmother to GrandPad, communication was sometimes difficult because Michelle does not speak Spanish, Haydee’s preferred language. It’s easier to talk now that they can see each other on a GrandPad video call. 

“We all started posting very slowly, but now we’re posting pictures several times a day,” Ammy said. “She feels more involved, more part of our lives now. “She feels like a part that was missing for so long is now fulfilled. ” 

“I talk to her way more than I did, and for me it fills a hole inside that I’ve been feeling ever since we came to Hawaii,” Michelle said. “I was feeling the distance, and I felt like there had to be a way to have her be part of our daily lives.” 

For the granddaughters, there is also some comfort in being able to see Haydee and better judge her health. 

Haydee loves being able to talk with her children and grandchildren. Ammy, Michelle, and Jenny all had children during the pandemic, and they share photos daily through the GrandPad so Haydee can watch her great-grandchildren grow.

“We all started posting very slowly, but now we’re posting pictures several times a day,” Ammy said. “She feels more involved, more part of our lives now. “She feels like a part that was missing for so long is now fulfilled.” 


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