Continuing education in our senior years Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

"Guess who is using a calculator these days?" said my husband Bob, as he set down his suitcase just inside the front door. "My mother!"

No! Not the woman who stubbornly maintained that not while she had the brains God gave her . . .

This was back in the late 60s or early 70s when Bob was traveling on business trips that rarely took him in the vicinity of his parents' Illinois home, and now he recounted the happy visit when he was able to give them one of the calculators his company issued and teach them how to use it.

"I wish you could have seen how delighted they were with their new 'toy' after I taught them how to use it."

Pleasant reminder

I was reminded of that incident recently when I visited my son Tom and his wife in Colorado.

When an item popped up on my computer screen in April announcing a slash in plane fares to Denver, I boldly went ahead and made a reservation for myself for the first week in May and just hoped that Tom and Janet really meant it when they said I was welcome any time.

It would be the first time in years that I had traveled alone, but knowing the airline policies regarding elderly passengers, I knew I would be well cared for.

In fact, it was almost comical. With curbside check-in and wheelchair service, I had it made. The attendant pushing my wheelchair just whipped me through to the head of the line of passengers at the baggage check, and when he later hoisted my carry-on bag to the back of the wheelchair where I was ensconced clasping nothing more than my purse and sailed me down the long concourse past people struggling with bags, kids, backpacks, and lunches, I felt like the Queen of England. (I had to hold down my left hand with my right to keep from waving the "queen wave.")

As I waited at the gate for my flight to board, I was so engrossed in the novel I was reading on my Kindle that the attendant had to tap me on the shoulder to remind me that she would board me first, and could I walk alone? I assured her I could make it to my seat by myself. I felt so grown up.

Once on board, I could call my son Tom on my cell phone to remind him I was on my way and be reassured that he would be at the other end when I got there in two hours. Like when he was little. He could slide down the slide, and I would be at the bottom to catch him. Nice the way that works in reverse, huh?

Keeping up with technology

Well, Tom was there to catch me alright. And he and his lovely wife continued my queen treatment for the next week by giving me every comfort and service at their disposal. And when I told them the real purpose of my visit, they were still enthusiastic. I said I wanted them to help me buy a smartphone and teach me how to use it while I was there.

Remember my mother-in-law learning the calculator? I couldn't learn the iPhone in one afternoon. And I surely couldn't learn it all in one week either. Thank the Lord I have several more children living nearby who are always ready and patient to help me along the way.

While I was with Tom, I was able to learn the basics and to realize I was not too dumb to learn the smartphone. I was able to see his sons and grandchildren and take pictures of them with my cell phone and Kindle tablet. His grandchildren (twins) are the oldest of my great-grandchildren. It is so exciting to see them develop as athletes and scholars as they enter high school this year.

Keeping track of family

Now with my smart phone, I can see the latest family photos on Facebook, play Scrabble with my grandkids, and send text messages to my kids who don't want their phones to ring during meetings.

The handy calendar gives me reminders when it's time to take another pill from my growing arsenal and when to work in all those doctor appointments without sacrificing a bridge game. (Keeping a full calendar is the best insurance against dying in bed. Studies show more people die in bed than . . . Oh, never mind.)

With such a big family, I have to take inventory every year and count those blessings. It's funny how we had no idea when they were small that these 10 children would compound the blessings the way they have, 19 grandchildren, 13 great-grands.

It takes a calculator. It takes a computer. It takes smartphones and airlines and many other man-made gadgets. I just don't want to miss a thing. So I will keep on learning.

And it takes a loving God to make that possible. I thank him.

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