Grandpa’s iPad

My grandpa is legally blind. He can see, but poorly. When he reads books they are the extra large print editions, and he holds them so close they’re practically resting on his nose. And when he watches an old western film from his VHS collection he sits about two feet away from his big-screen TV.

Last weekend, while in Colorado visiting family, we had a big family dinner at my parents’ house. I loaded my 2-year-old son, Noah, into the car and we drove to pick up my Grandpa from his apartment and bring him over for dinner.

My Grandparents’ homes were always filled with seemingly floor to ceiling photos of family. And his current apartment is no different. There are picture frames on the table and on the desk and on the dresser, and snapshots of grandchildren have been printed out (with the help of more tech-savvy relatives) and thumb-tacked to the walls.

At the apartment, I held Noah while my Grandpa gathered his things — his coat, hat, and walker. And, a new item now: his iPad.

The iPad was a gift from my aunt. It’s a 3rd generation and she doesn’t use it that often so she gave it to him hoping he could use it. (Perhaps as a giant remote control for the TV?)

But my Grandpa discovered a use for it that none of us had considered. It is the best camera he’s ever owned.

Before leaving the apartment, Noah and I had to pose for a picture. Holding the iPad about 10 inches in front of his face, my Grandpa snapped a few photos.

I know there are people out there who take pictures using their iPads, because I’ve seen — ahem — pictures of them doing it. But I’ve always thought it a bit funny and awkward.

And there I was. Posing to have my picture taken with an iPad.

At first, I wanted to snicker. But how could I? If my Grandpa wants to use an iPad to take a picture of his grandson and great grandson, then who cares? Certainly not me.

Back at my parent’s house, my Grandpa continued to spend the first part of the evening taking everyone’s picture. Several of my cousins were there, and many of us don’t get to see my Grandpa more often than every couple of months, if not longer. It was a prime time for snapshots.

Later, Noah quickly warmed up to my Grandpa thanks to the iPad. (As any parent knows, iPads and iPhones are captivating to a toddler. Noah is already quite fluent with iOS and has been sliding to unlock since before he could walk.) The iPad was a way for my Grandpa to spend some time with Noah at his side, as the two of them flipped through the camera roll.

With a smile, I’ve been thinking about that evening for the past week.

My Grandpa’s iPad has enabled him to do something that he’s been unable to do for as long as I can remember. The 9.7-inch touch screen has turned my Grandpa into a photographer.

The screen is large enough that he can see well enough to actually frame and take pictures. And then he has them right there, on that same large screen, where he can browse through them any time he wants.

To me, that’s pretty magical.

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