When modern 'miracles' lose their luster Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Sep. 17, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

Grand Mom by Audrey Mettel FixmerI was visiting the other day in the world's most popular senior club, the doctor's office, watching as she consulted her computer to check my X-rays from the week before.

I was just relishing the wonders of this technology that allows doctors to view any kind of health record or test results by a click of the mouse. Then I noticed her drumming her fingers in annoyance that she had to wait nearly a minute to get my record on the screen. I laughed.


It reminded me of my own impatience when I am in a hurry to get on the Internet to check my e-mail or to pay bills before I have to leave the house. I often find myself yelling at the computer, "You call this high speed Internet?"


It's like the cartoon I once saw soon after microwaves were invented. Remember how thrilled we were to see cooking times go from 30 minutes to 30 seconds? Well, this guy in the cartoon was standing in front of his microwave yelling, "C'mon! C'mon!"

How soon these modern "miracles" lose their luster!

Forgetting the nostalgia

Remember when plastic was invented? (Seniors surely do!) Now we can't imagine life without bags of every size and containers for our leftovers. And then the garbage disposal? No more wrapping garbage in newspapers, although now they want us to go back to burying garbage and recycling plastic because our greedy lifestyle makes preposterous demands on our planet earth.

At the bridge table the other day the subject of laundry came up and the question of at what age could a child be expected to be responsible for doing his or her own laundry. Surely by 11 or 12?

Betty laughed and said that when she was in college she mailed her laundry home to her mother every week. So did I! We were remembering the nice boxes with straps around them pre-addressed, and how cheap it was to send them by U.S. mail in the '40s and '50s.

And what a nice thing to have that box come back from Mother each week with everything neatly ironed (before permanent press) and folded. And sometimes Mom included a home baked treat as well. Mother, of course, had a whole day devoted to laundry because she used her old wringer washer and two rinse tubs, hung it out and took it down all before sundown.

That was before Laundromats, of course. The first year of our marriage we lived in a tiny furnished upstairs apartment, so I used a tiny portable washer on my kitchen table, filled by hand from the kitchen sink, and then I strung it out to dry over racks and furniture. The first coin operated machines we used were in University Village when Bob was in graduate school. A miracle for all those diapers!

Appreciating the miracles

It's when we remember "how it was" that we truly appreciate the miracles of technology we have observed in our lifetimes. The commonplace is always undervalued.

And then at Mass this morning I realized that the greatest miracle of all had to be the institution of the Eucharist. That we can receive the Body and Blood of Christ just "for the asking" -- going to church is truly a miracle of eternal value. For most of us in our diocese, this could be every day. How soon we forget!