Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Grandpa's Technology Skills

Many years ago when computers invaded every home my grandpa promised he would never own one. He did not see how they would help simplify his life; he thought they would only be a complication or another piece of equipment in the house. Besides, didn't they take up a whole room?

Grandpa could not believe it when my dad brought over a laptop. He asked so many questions about what it was doing and how it did it. He did not understand how so much information could be in such a small machine. He was even more blown away when I introduced the concept of instant messaging. AND furthermore, when I told him that I could communicate on instant message with my friends around the world, he would say I was making it up. His favorite word to exclaim was, "IMPOSSIBLE!"

Then, a few years ago, my aunt bought him a computer. He was intimidated and ignored the thing for several months. Finally, we sat down and gave him a lesson. We wrote down step by step instructions of how to do documents, check email and his favorite- search the map program. Things that were second nature to me I now had to teach my 78 year old Grandfather!

How do you explain "double click?" How do you help him do it when his fingers do not move that fast anymore? How do you teach him common phrases like "x out," "file," "open the program," "sign online," "screen name," etc.? It was difficult, but he eventually got the hang of it.

Then I taught him how to use instant messaging. I showed him the Buddy List with all our names on it. I said, "Now, when I go home and sign online, if you are online too, my screen name will appear in this box and your name will be in my box. You click on my name and another little box appears. You can type inside that box and press 'send' and it will send me the message. Then I can reply and we can talk. Do you understand?" His response? "Impossible."

But he is getting better and faster. For a while he would tell me, "When you sent me that message I had no idea where it came from! All the sudden there was this box and you were talking. How did you know I was on the computer?" I would laugh and explain the whole thing over again, to which he replied, "Impossible."

So I instant message with my 80 year old grandpa. He loves it. Usually, when we say goodbye and I get offline the phone rings. Grandpa. He is calling to tell me that he enjoyed talking to me and that he cannot believe we can talk like that over the computer. So, even though instant messaging is free long distance, my grandpa calls long distance to tell me it was nice to chat for free. Silly gramps.

A couple days ago we were chatting and he said this ( I have left it unedited):

I hope all is weelll, and not any ailments in your house. Sam is OK, and Tori and Tim going fast. What a surprise when I saw them last. The are sprouting like Ben did. And what a lovey mature young person you have matured too. Keep upo the good work. Granps, is leaving and going to get ready for bed. Hope you have joy in your heart.
It makes me go "awwwwwwwww" every time I read it. He is so cute and I love him so much. Now, if only I could teach him how to read my blog... :-) Rumor has it he owns a digital camera now too! For another story about Grandpa read this post: Grandpa's Influence.


Katie said...

That is such a sweet story...

And meaningful in a way our culture so rarely realizes. It grieves me to see how much my generation is losing because they choose to ignore my grandparent's generation. The wisdom and insight so many lose by refusing to interact with grandparents and other elderly people is incredible, not to mention an incredibly sweet relationship...

God gave us the elderly as a gift, and our generation so often takes pleasure in throwing it away...

Thanks for being one of those who doesn't throw it away!

Jaclyn said...
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Jaclyn said...

I, like you, Katie, grieve the low view of grandpas and grandmas. There are two kinds of people that are given little attention in our culture: the elderly and the children. Thus the abortion and euthanasia issues! Our culture seems to idolize the "middle years" and disregard the young and the old. Yet, Scripture warns us over and over again to not let the follies of youth entangle us. INSTEAD, we are commanded to be like children and respect the mature in age!

Both people have much to teach us... the child reminds us to accept others, have fun and laugh. The elderly teach us to avoid mistakes, what to do with our time and what is really important.

I wish that I had hours to sit and talk with my grandpa. The older he gets the more reflective and open he becomes about what he has learned in his 80 years. I am sad to think that the day when he leaves us is drawing nearer and nearer. I will miss him terribly!