The Swedish word ‘Farmor’ means ‘Father’s Mother’. Our children call my husband’s mum in Sweden “Farmor”. Had she been my mum, she would have been “Mormor” (literally Mother’s Mother). So when speaking Swedish one hears immediately if one is speaking about family members on father’s or mother’s side of the family. This goes for aunts and uncles as well (Faster – father’s sister , Moster – mother’s sister, Farbror – father’s brother, Morbror – mother’s brother, and so forth).

However, I am Dutch and our three children call their Dutch grandmother ‘Oma’. This is what all Dutch children call their grandma.

Both Oma and Farmor are trying to “move with the times”. Oma recently got an i-pad from “Morbror” (only joking, from my brother!) and she has now got heavily into (what I think of as) “Show And Tell”! While talking to her we usually only see her hair (she has little idea how to position it). When she first got it she couldn’t find the button for the camera at all and so we did ‘Voyeurism’ instead: Oma saw London and we saw nothing.

My brother living close to her in the Netherlands then gave her some training in using camera function and now she does manage to move into view but is waving the i-pad around the house to show us things: the front garden, a bouquet of flowers someone gave her. At my end everything starts spinning and I feel dizzy in the extreme (I don’t normally feel ‘carsick’ when skyping…) A sickening red blur turns out to be a vase full of red roses. A swirly baby blue blur turns out to be the sky over my mother’s front garden. And so forth!

The one trick we have not been able to teach Oma is texting. She just isn’t willing to spend the time getting to know her mobile phone and mostly she forgets that she owns one.

However, Farmor, our Swedish grandma, is not (yet) in proud possession of an i-pad (at the time of writing), but she discovered how to send SMS messages years ago.

There is one small problem: her text messages do not always go to the person she intends the message for.

Last weekend she attempted to send a Happy Birthday SMS to a friend. The message reached my husband’s eldest brother in Stockholm instead. He said to his wife: “Today is my big day? Is it?! What could that mean?” so “Farbror (Uncle, father’s brother) then called Farmor to ask.

Farmor decided to give it another go. She created a new text message and pressed ‘SEND’. Next thing she knew her neighbour across the corridor knocked on her door and asked: “What makes you think it is my birthday today, dear?!”

Oops! At that point Farmor picked up the phone and called the friend instead to wish her a happy birthday. The old-fashioned method worked fine!

And in truth I often wonder what will become of me in MY old age. (I am going to be 48 on Friday!) I still play CD’s – and would not know how to rig up my ipod to play a wider selection of music – the way most of my friends and colleagues seem to do. I only got a smart phone half a year ago – until then I had a “brick” and no desire at all for 24/7 connectivity.

I think that Farmor and Oma are heroic in the way they have embraced new-fangled technology! With confusing results on occasion… but at least that spices things up a bit!

I can’t begin to imagine what technology I may need to grapple with the day I am 75 (Oma) or 82 (Farmor)…. if I am lucky enough to live that long!

And as I have sons, not daughters, I will be a Farmor, not a Mormor…. if I am lucky enough to have grandchildren one day… and if those grandchildren happen to be Swedish-speaking.

And those grandchildren will laugh at hearing we used skype in the Dark Ages… they will most likely be tele-porting themselves and communicating through telepathy!

Seeing how popular shamanism is these days, that is my best guess!

Imelda Almqvist

Imelda Almqvist is a shamanic practitioner, teacher and painter based in London, UK