Loved Ones Connect Long-Distance With Webcams

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Last Monday, NPR asked listeners to share their stories of how they use technology to communicate long-distance with loved ones.

Many people — grandmothers and sons and brothers and wives — wrote in with stories of talking across town, across states and across oceans using webcams.

A Sick Teenager Connects With Her Grandmother

Two years ago, Rhonda Herring's daughter Katherine came down with a rare disease called chiari malformation. Katherine, who is 15, was in and out of the intensive care unit in Hot Springs, Ark., and long-distance from Rhonda's mother.

"My mother missed us, we missed her," Herring says. "And telephone calls just didn't quite make it. For one thing, it's really difficult to get telephone calls when you're sitting in the ICU."

But the webcam allowed Rhonda's mother to see them both.

"She could see the equipment; she could see that Katherine was sleeping comfortably. She could see when she woke up and smiled for the first time," Herring says. "It made my daughter and I feel as if we weren't in this medical nightmare completely by ourselves. It helped Mother feel that she was big a part of what was going on with us."

A Military Wife Sees Her Husband Is Safe

A couple of months ago, Kaytee Bute, who lives in Ogden, Utah, got an e-mail from her husband, Glendon, who was in Afghanistan with the Army. The e-mail said that his base had been attacked, but that he was safe.

"I was really worried, and even though he told me he was OK, it was really hard for me to believe him," she said.

The next evening, Glendon called Kaytee using Skype.

"The second I saw him, I just started crying," Kaytee Bute says. "I just had this feeling of relief washing over my body, because there's just something amazing about being able to see him and know that he was not harmed. For a brief moment, I felt like I was with him again during a really difficult time."

A Grandmother Buys Her Granddaughter A Dress

Sarah Adams, 64, teaches high school math in Long Beach, Calif. Her granddaughter Kestrel Adams Unger, 7, lives in Hong Kong.

Adams says she sent two fancy dresses to her granddaughter for a school concert.

One was black, and one was green with sparkles. Kestrel modeled them for her grandmother using a webcam.

"It's like talking to a little person thing that has the same voice and head as your grandma or your papa," Kestrel says.

"It's the best thing short of a supersonic jet getting me there in person with them," Adams says.

Correction Dec. 11, 2008

In previous versions of this story, Kestrel Adams Unger's name was misspelled.

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