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At 86, Ana Osorio stays in touch via Skype

A native of Honduras, 86-year-old Ana Osorio found herself wishing for a way to feel more connected to the members of her family scattered throughout the United States and the world.
Finally, after years of feeling a world away from her loved ones, Osorio’s wish was granted when her family in Unicoi County introduced her to Skype, a software application that allows users to make video phone calls over the Internet.
Osorio travels all year, spending the summer months in Unicoi County with her granddaughter, Judy Williams, and her great-grandchildren, Michael Baker and Emily Williams. However, once the weather begins to change, usually around October, Osorio travels to Mississippi or Florida to stay with others in her family. With her time divided between family members, Osorio said Skype helps her feel closer to loved ones she doesn’t see as often. And in the two years since she has learned to use the application, Osorio has rarely gone a single day without staying in touch via Skype.
“I use it every day,” Osorio said. “I call family from all over the place – Mississippi, Fort Lauderdale and Charleston. I have a nephew in Vancouver and a niece in Mexico. I call family in Miami and my youngest daughter in Honduras. I have a nephew in New Jersey. Whoever is on, I talk to them. I was just talking to my daughter in Honduras (a few minutes ago).”
Baker, who is often the one to teach his great-grandmother about new technology, said Osorio got the hang of Skype in no time.
“She is a very fast learner,” Baker said. “We showed her once on our home computer, and then her daughters bought her a netbook (lap top) for her birthday. She uses it to call everybody. She was walking around Walgreens on Skype the other day and she’s Skyped in Walmart.”
Osorio explained that she enjoys using Skype because even though she is so far away from the people she loves, she can call them and watch them go about their day-to-day lives, which helps lessen the distance between them.
“It makes (family) seem not so far away,” Osorio said. “I open the computer, I turn on Skype and call Honduras. My daughter will be cooking, and I watch while talking to her. I do that because it makes me feel that I am close to them – that I am there with them. It makes me very happy because I can talk to them, and I know they are OK.”
Her granddaughter, Judy Williams, said the Skype application has been beneficial to all members of their widespread family. Judy, who relocated to Unicoi County from Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said it was difficult to be in a new place with no family around. Like her grandmother, Judy said Skype has helped her to feel closer to everyone.
“Skyping was a big help whenever my mom lived in Oregon,” Judy said. “Me being here with no family, it helped to get cameras and be able to talk to one another. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to communicate with family members and to see them. It makes a big difference. I usually talk to (Osorio) once a day when I’m not at work.”
Likewise, Emily said Skype has enabled her to talk to her great-grandmother whenever she wishes.
“It’s much easier to just talk to her to make sure she is OK,” Emily said. “It gives you a happy feeling. When I’m at home, she is usually on, so I can talk to her any time I want to.”
In addition to staying connected with members of her family, Osorio said Skyping and using the Internet is also a great way to keep herself busy throughout the day. In fact, Osorio said she recommends that others her age learn to use computers and applications like Skype.
“For me, it is normal to use the computer, and I want to learn more about the computer,” she said. “I think others my age (should use the computer) because they wouldn’t be thinking about death. They would feel more occupied and they would be able to speak with their families.”
Now that Osorio is a pro at using the Skype application, she has asked Baker to help her set up an account on Facebook – a site which she believes will keep her even more connected to those she wants to keep close.