Staying connected at 90

January 5, 2018

My soon-to-be 90 year old mom announced that her computer of several years was on the fritz, and all her friends suggested that she should get a Mac product. “They’re so easy,” they all insisted. “I watch movies in bed on my iPad,” one raved. “I can FaceTime my grandkids,” declared another.

Who are these people, and why are they enticing my mother to spend way too much money on something that a basic machine can do? Email is a regular visitor on her computer, and she does order her vitamins online, but other than that, she does not take advantage of the myriad of apps and capabilities of these sophisticated devices.

She decided she needed a smart phone, thinking it would be fun to text. To be fair, she has texted at least once every other month in the time she has owned it, but her thumbs have not grown weary from pushing the limits of her data plan.

After numerous conversations and looking into purchasing something used (there are few available), I decided I would get a new laptop and pass on my perfectly fine 2012 to her. I would gain speed and satisfaction in honoring the wish of my mom in a way that was affordable to her. My biggest fear was that she would be calling me with challenges that I would be incapable of diagnosing across the 250 miles that separate us. (or even if I were sitting next to her).

I brought home my sleek Air days ahead of my mom’s visit and then spent the better part of a day with multiple technicians erasing my old one and getting it set up for her. I stuffed a small pillow with hair from my head, but we did get there, which was hugely rewarding.

I was driving her to the bus and reviewing the password, reminding her that when she arrived home in New York State, she would need to connect with the internet there. “Oh I don’t have a password there,” she stated confidently. I nodded vigorously. “Sure you do. I’ve needed it when I come to visit. It’s written down near the monitor.” “Oh, no” she pursued. “I know that there is no password at the assisted living. I’ve never had one.” Uh-oh. I started to get huffy. “Mom, there is absolutely a password there. Bet you ten bucks.” Worried that this basic tenet of computer life was eluding her I opened my mouth to refute her claim once again, but somehow stopped before any words escaped. “Okay, we’ll see,” I shrugged my shoulders, and hoped I didn’t sound too irritated.

Minutes later she changed tacks. “You know, my friends have been telling me about this dating website. I think I’m ready to try it out.” I slid a glance to check her expression. She looked as earnest as ever.

“Sure, why not?” I exclaimed. I realized her friends there would be in a much better position to help with this, too.

My mom has forged a close relationship with the Apple help people. They possess unparalleled patience, and knowledge to address questions great and small. I’m certain that in a few months it will be me calling her to ask what to do when my screen freezes and I can’t shut down my machine. Even if her answer is “Call Adam at Apple,” I still give her credit for being wiling to learn, proving that dogs of all ages can learn new tricks. They just need motivation and a little repetition. I hope I can maintain as open an attitude when I’m pushing 90.

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