Connecting across generations: Iris Selleck

Zach Grimes knows he didn’t always make things easy for his grandmother.

Iris Selleck and her husband, Everett, raised their grandson from the time he was about 2 years old, and Zach admits he had his challenging moments. 

“I wasn’t the easiest teenager, not that most are. My grandparents put up with a lot from me,” Zach said. “When I was a teenager, I was probably a jerk, but once I became a parent myself – I can’t believe all the grief I put these people through.” 

Like a true grandmother, Iris remembers things differently. She recalls a generous boy who may have had a few difficult years at the end of high school. But then again, who doesn’t? 

“I’m proud of him, because he worked and put himself through school,” said Iris, who is now 86. “The position he has now, he deserves it, because he worked very hard.” 

Whatever their relationship was like then, Zach and Iris built a bond that endured. While they do not live close to one another – Iris is in Sarasota, FL, and Zach met a girl in college and followed her to Wisconsin – Zach still visits his grandmother three or four times a year. Those visits have been more frequent this year since his grandfather died in June. When they can’t see each other in person, Zach and Iris talk at least once a week, especially on Sundays during and after Dallas Cowboys games. They celebrate big plays and big wins and commiserate when the Cowboys fall short. 

“We always watch the games and are either happy or disgusted,” Zach said.

Strengthening connections

Those check-ins got easier a few years ago when Zach bought his grandparents a GrandPad.

These days, video chats have replaced phone calls, and instead of ordering printed photos, Zach and the rest of his family can easily share photos that allow Iris to see how her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are growing up.

Those pictures help grandmother and grandson feel more connected, even if they’re just scenic shots of Zach’s property on the shores of Lake Michigan or videos of his cats playing. Both of Zach’s daughters use the GrandPad to share photos with their great-grandmother, his aunt shares photos of exotic birds from her home in Hawaii, and his mother shares photos from her home in the mountains of North Carolina. 

“I just thought the GrandPad would be a good way to stay connected, because they really can’t figure out a smartphone,” said Zach, who also considered an iPad before deciding his grandparents shouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of regular software updates.

“It’s cool that she can videoconference and that people can put pictures on there. GrandPad was exactly the right fit. They were able to figure it out pretty quickly, and the customer support has been great.” 

Zach likes the connections that the GrandPad has created between Iris and her extended family, which includes two daughters, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and one great-great granddaughter, as well as four sisters. He also likes the security of knowing that anybody who calls the GrandPad is a trusted contact. Iris still has a landline that she rarely answers anymore, unless she knows who is calling. 

“It’s one way to protect her,” Zach said. “It makes it easier for her to screen calls.” 

A blessing

For Iris, the GrandPad has nearly too many benefits to count.

While she enjoyed calls with her family before she got her GrandPad, she loves being able to see her great-grandchildren grow up. She brings her GrandPad to Bible study on Fridays to share photos. 

Iris didn’t travel much prior to the COVID-19 pandemic because of a heart problem, and the pandemic has made travel all but impossible. But the GrandPad allows her to stay close to her loved ones, despite the miles that separate them.

“What’s wonderful is that I can see them. There’s nothing like that when you don’t get to see them in person very often,” Iris said. “I don’t know how to express it in words. It’s a blessing.”  

She might say the same about her grandson.

“He’s a fine young man, and he was so good to my husband and me,” she said.