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What I Really Know About Television

For Grandma and Granddad, television serves as a magic mediator.

While Granddad earned his living, Grandma raised eight children and rarely had pocket money. When Social Security started sending each of my grandparents a check, Grandma started keeping her own finances even though she wasn’t prepared to handle her cash flow. This started a division between my grandparents, but it was the argument over whether Grandma had paid Granddad back for the prescription medicine he had picked up for her that really split them apart. Granddad was so angry that he threw the drugs away. All communication between them ceased. A dread silence loomed over the household for months.

That Christmas, their eight adult children decided to buy them a television set. Theirs was the last household in our little village of Ray, Ill., to get a TV. The shiny box sat on a little stand atop one of Grandma’s doilies, waiting to perform magic.

Grandma and Granddad had to spend time together in front of that TV in the evenings. They had to work together to see that the rabbit ears were at just the right angle to get the best reception. They had to make sure the volume was set so both could hear properly. They would laugh together at the funny shows.

At breakfast, they began talking about what they saw the night before. Slowly, they were communicating again. I still believe that my grandparents would never have resumed talking if television hadn’t brought them back together.

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