McMorran family Zoom calls: 30-plus people, four continents, 87-year age range
There are family Zoom calls and then there are McMorran family Zoom calls.
For two straight Saturdays, longtime Ridgefield residents Phil and Monica McMorran and their extended family have taken the technological get-togethers — increasingly popular during this time of COVID-19 isolation — to an exalted level: 30-plus people, ranging in age from four months to 87 years, connecting virtually across six states, one district, four countries, and four continents.
“It does take some planning, but it’s been a wonderful way for all of us to stay in touch and see and hear one another,” Monica McMorran said. “Usually, we are talking to each other one-on-one.”
Last Saturday afternoon’s Zoom call lasted 75 minutes and included 33 family members (one more than the previous week) located in California, Rhode Island, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., South Africa (Johannesburg and Capetown), Qatar, and the UK (London).
Organized by McMorran’s daughters and nieces, the Zoom calls are pre-structured to minimize interruptions and cacophony.
“They are set up so that everyone takes a turn talking based on age,” McMorran said. “It starts with the oldest, which is me, and goes down to a four-month old sitting on someone’s knee and not saying much.”
The conversation is a topical catch-up of what family members are doing now that lives are mostly confined indoors.
“Jigsaws, crosswords, reading books, trying to take a gentle walk, keeping up and checking in with friends,” McMorran said, when asked what she has talked about on the Zoom calls. “Nothing too exciting.
“One of my granddaughters who is working from home in Texas is conducting research on women who have given birth while they had the coronavirus,” McMorran added. “That was interesting to hear about. She was telling us that she gets stuff from China and she has to find someone to translate for her.”
In non-virtual terms, McMorran also has gotten around, living physically on three continents. Born in South Africa — where three of her four siblings still live — McMorran has spent the last 59 years in America, and the last 50 of those in Ridgefield, where she and Phil raised four children.
“When I was younger I went to see the world and I ran out of money in England,” she said. “I called the U.S. Embassy and asked if they had any librarian jobs and I was assigned to a [military] base in Denham, in Buckinghamshire. That’s where I met Phil, who was in the [United States] Air Force and stationed there.”
The couple eventually went to Maine (where Phil grew up) before moving to Ridgefield after Phil attended the University of Connecticut. Monica worked as a librarian for 23 years — three at East Ridge Middle School and 20 at Ridgefield High School — before retiring. She now volunteers at the Ridgefield Historical Society.
McMorran expects her family’s Zoom gatherings to continue until life regains some normalcy — plans are underway for a third call this Saturday at noon.
“It’s something to look forward to,” she said. “And Phil and I don’t have to do much except wait for instructions to join the meeting.”
While the McMorran family members will keep giving updates, they likely won’t be performing again.
“We tried to sing Shosholoza, which is a traditional Zulu folk song in South Africa,” Monica McMorran said. “It was a disastrous attempt. We found out that everybody knew the first three words and then nothing after that.”