Zooming into the future

2020 virtual Cude Family reunion--by Zoom

We didn’t have to get up early to drive to Marble Falls by noon on June 27—that was where our 2020 Cude Family reunion was set to be held, at Cousin Joe Cude’s ranch. I didn’t prepare a dessert to take to share with the group, nor did we enjoy a catered barbecue lunch with the rest of the family.

Instead, we gathered in front of our computer screen at 2 p.m. that afternoon and enjoyed a virtual family reunion by Zoom. We could see 18 screens with individuals, couples or families in each one, plus Cousin Joe participated by phone, so we could hear and talk with him, though we could not see him. I counted 43 participants, some of whom were young children. We “met” Brandon and Alyce Messer’s 1-month-old daughter Piper and saw how much her older sister Hallie, now 2 1/2 years old, had grown since her first reunion, two years ago.

We learned that Piper and Hallie’s grandmother, newly-retired teacher Diann Cude Miller and husband Bill, are in the process of moving to the Dallas area from Colorado, where they have lived for several years, so that she can enjoy being close to them—and to another new granddaughter arriving in August to Diann’s daughter Allyson and husband Brian Bentley, who also live in the Dallas area. 

Diann also announced that son Chris and wife Nicole Messer of Portland, Oregon, would provide her with her first grandson in November—the younger brother of another 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter Paige.

In October, Mariah (daughter of Randal and Jean Cude) and Luke Surumurthi will add another daughter to the Cude clan. Lots of new family members!

Will (son of Garry and Sheila Cude) and Kelley Cude and 5-month-old Emma of Austin missed the reunion because they fell asleep and didn’t wake up in time for the gathering. Nathan (son of Margaret and George Sutton) and wife Ede also failed to wake up from their nap. They live in an apartment in Brooklyn with their very active 2 1/2-year-old son Charlie, named for his great-grandfather, the Rev. Charles Reece, who was the minister of Beeville’s First Christian Church in the 1960s. We understood the problems of sleep- and rest–deprived parents!

However, in addition to the usual Texas attendees, we had participants from Provo, Utah; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Greeley, Colorado; Enid, Oklahoma; Royal Oak, Michigan; and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Cindy Haszier McRae and husband Kevin of Greeley have attended several recent reunions, and our daughters Mariana, Elena and family members (from Carlisle and Royal Oak, respectively) have also been able to make a few. However, several other distant family members participated for the first time this year. 

Organized by Mariana, who used Zoom for her Spanish classes at Dickinson College in Carlisle after the coronavirus shut down regular classes this spring, and Elena, who will use it for her Italian classes at Wayne State University in Detroit this fall, each family gave a brief report and told how they were coping with sheltering at home. 

We congratulated Paul Cude’s son Avery for his recent graduation from A.C. Jones High School, and wished Andrea (Guthrie) and Joel Darrington’s daughter Lucy a happy upcoming fourth birthday—on July 4. (Andrea is a daughter of my sister Catherine.)

George and Anne Cude of Fort Worth announced that their family had just grown: daughter Linda and son-in-law Jeff House of Marlton, New Jersey, had happily adopted two puppies.

And we sighed upon learning that Margaret and George Sutton’s plans for celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in Paris last month had to be changed. “We had take-out Mexican food at home instead,” Margaret reported.

While not quite as much fun as a “real” family reunion, our virtual reunion was quite enjoyable—and much better than no reunion at all.

Before I learned about Mariana’s classes by Zoom earlier this year, I had only thought of “traveling at a very high speed” when I heard the word “zoom.”

From online research I learned that Zoom was founded by Eric Yuan in 2011 in San José, California. According to Wikipedia, “it provides videotelephony and online chat services through a cloud-based, peer-to-peer software platform and is used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education and social relations.” 

Originally, Zoom was limited to 15 participants and gradually increased until it could accommodate 1,000 business customers. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has seen a major increase in usage for people working from home and for distance learning.

Zoom had about 10 million users in December 2016—and about 200 million in March 2020. By the end of April it counted some 300 million daily participants.

In addition to the family reunion and several “gatherings” with our family, I have participated in several Vineyard board meetings by Zoom. Pastor Gary Conklin, board president, says that he is often busy with Zoom meetings scheduled back to back!

Jonnie Jordan is “attending” Sunday School classes at First United Methodist Church by Zoom, and our book discussion group may soon start having Zoom meetings.

With no end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, it looks like we’ll be Zooming into the future!

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