Google Maps’ Street View is an online portrait of the world through millions of panoramic photos taken by Google’s Street View cars or contributors.
Leslie Barraza told CNN she had no idea about the conversation she was about to start when she posted a 13- second screen recording of her using Google Maps Street View on Tuesday to find her deceased grandfather’s farm in Durango, Mexico.
Leslie said her sister was showing her the streets of her grandfather, Carlos Barraza’s farm and after a few taps, at the end of the road, they found him sitting outside his home.
Her grandfather passed away two years ago, and Barraza said she wasn’t able to say a final goodbye or tell him how much she loved him.
“My grandpa was the rock to my family,” she said. “He was the only father figure in my life and to see him one last time gave me such a sense of comfort.”
Barraza’s tweet inspired so many to find and share screen grabs of their loved ones found on Street View. She said she feels awesome about what she started.
Hundreds have replied to her thread with their screen recordings of their deceased loved ones sitting, working or standing outside their homes or places they would frequent.
Google recognized Barraza’s tweet and thanked her for sharing.
“It’s heartwarming to see Google Maps and Street View helping so many people remember their loved ones in a special way and share their memory with the world,” Google spokesman Ben Jose told CNN.
“I felt a knot in my throat”
Iván Rodriguez told CNN his grandfather, Jose Guzman, immigrated to the United States in 1980. He moved in with the Rodriguez family in 2012 when Rodriguez’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away four years later, and Guzman decided to stay with the Rodriguez family permanently in their Los Angeles home.
Rodriguez described his grandfather as a hardworking man whose hobbies included sitting outside and soaking up the sun with the family dog.
“They would spend hours just sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air,” Rodriguez said. Guzman passed away in June 2019 due to a respiratory failure caused by his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
About a month ago, Rodriguez’s father asked if Google had changed the picture of their house on Google Maps. That’s when Rodriguez said he found the familiar sight of his grandfather sitting in the yard.
“It just meant a lot to our family to have that,” he said.
Rodriguez said when he saw the tweet that started it all and began following the thread of tweets, he felt a knot in his throat.
“You just don’t realize how many people might experience a similar thing and what it means to them,” he said. “It was a great moment to say the least.”
“The matriarch of our family”
Doretha James Ford was known for relaxing outside her home in Albany, Georgia, her granddaughter, Kisawanda James told CNN.
James described her grandmother as a strong, hardworking woman with an amazing sense of humor and wit.
“She rarely repeated herself, so if you missed it, you missed it,” James said. “My grandmother meant the world to me.”
On a day last year where she missed her a little extra, she looked up Ford’s home on Google Maps and saw the image of her grandmother, before the Twitter thread was started.
Seeing the Twitter thread take off was exciting, according to James.
Ford battled early onset Alzheimer’s disease for a few years, according to James. The older she got, it became more difficult with her immune system breaking down simultaneously. In January 2016 at age 97, Ford passed away.
“It gave me mixed emotions”
Sandra Dennis passed away in 2014 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, her granddaughter, Emily Smith, told CNN.
Around 2010, Smith said she remembers getting out the car and walking down the path to her grandmother’s home in Burton-On-Trent, England.
She remembers this particular day because the Google Map Street View car was in the neighborhood and she said she waved at it.
Sure enough, Google cameras caught that exact moment.
“I told my grandma, ‘It’s the Google car.’ My grandma looked puzzled, ‘The what?’ ‘The Google car, grandma,’ and I stood and waved,” Smith said.
Smith described her grandmother as an incredible and caring woman.
“She would do anything for absolutely anyone,” she said. “Always there to make you laugh.”
Smith had previously looked at Dennis’ address before seeing the thread late last year. She said it was a pleasant feeling knowing that there were others who had followed in her footsteps.