Quinn Hendershot and her grandma have always been super close. She's lived nearby in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois for Hendershot's entire life. When she was 13 and her father suffered a brain stem stroke, her grandma moved in with her family to help take care of everyone. Unsurprisingly, Hendershot feels incredibly connected to her.
Even when they weren't living under the same roof, Hendershot got to visit with her grandma regularly while she was growing up, and that didn't change when she became a young woman and was preparing to go off to graduate school.
"When I spend time with her, we do a lot of cooking (she loves to feed me!), as well as running errands together since she can't drive," says Hendershot.
Last year, however, Hendershot's grandma built a house in Colombia and moved there semi-permanently. She was born in Colombia and lived there until she was 17, so she still has a lot of family there whom she wants to reconnect with and help look after.
"My grandma grew up on a farm, and has always wanted to live somewhere where she could keep farm animals like chickens and donkeys," explains Hendershot. "It's a lot cheaper and easier to build houses in Colombia, so when she saved up enough money to build a house there, she bought a plot of land in the country and started building."
While Hendershot is incredibly happy her grandma is finally living out her dream, she misses seeing her all the time. It now takes three flight transfers for her grandma to get back to Chicago to see her family in the states, so she doesn't get to see Hendershot in person very often. But that hasn't changed the grandma and granddaughter's strong bond.
"We text almost daily, and love to send each other pictures," says Hendershot. "She has a cat and a dog that she loves to show me, and I like to send her pictures of my food because she always worries about if I'm eating enough - like any grandma!"
Unfortunately, phone service and internet isn't great where her grandma lives, so it's difficult to talk or see one another in a video chat in real time. When it works, however, it's wonderful for everyone.
"It's great to be able to see her and talk to her face-to-face, as opposed to just over text," says Hendershot. "Text is such a great way to communicate easily, but you do lose a lot of the tones and inflections that make a huge difference in talking to someone you love. I love getting to see that she is surrounded by so much of her family and friends in Colombia, and that she's never lonely."
Courtesy of Quinn Hendershot
Thanks to technology available today, it's easier for Hendershot to stay connected with her grandma. Products like the Google Nest Hub can help bridge the gap while they're apart. The device's photo sharing feature allows the family members to upload and share meaningful images with each other through Google Photos, helping them feel closer even when they're thousands of miles apart.
It's not easy for Hendershot to be so far away from one of her favorite people, but technology like this helps enormously. Getting to regularly see how happy her grandma is enjoying her new house, farm animals, and Colombian family helps Hendershot miss her just a little bit less.
"Knowing about each other's day-to-day lives makes me feel like the physical distance lessens, because we're emotionally so close," says Hendershot.
Google is providing Nest Hubs to USO families to help them feel closer this holiday season. Join us in supporting the USO at uso.org/googlenest.
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