The call came in a little over a week ago. Okay, the call didn't so come in as it went out. I made my weekly phone call to my mother and found her in what she would call "a state." Not the state of Colorado, which would have been appropriate since that's where she lives, but "a state of confusion," or maybe a "state of frustration," or some combination of the two. Her computer was giving her messages about being locked and she was doing all the right things to make it work, reading and responding to the directions on screen, then moving on to the hardcore technical fixes such as turning it off and turning it back on again. I caught her in the midst of one of these cycles and I could tell right away that her level of consternation had gone beyond setting the matter aside and chatting with her son. I asked her a few questions about her predicament and then went into support mode. We worried that something or someone might have phished her in and gained access to her machine. So I had her turn it off, then we chatted for a bit, catching up on the week's events along with liberal sprinklings of the computer challenge. After a few minutes, I had her turn the source of her woe back on, and I listened as she described the booting process. After a couple more minutes of tenuous waiting, she announced that it had come back to a normal login. She clicked on a few things and checked her connection to Al Gore's Internet. All was well. She was incredibly relieved, and I was pleased to have jumped into that fray and come out a winner. We talked for a little while longer, but as she was an hour ahead of my time, she was feeling the need to get back to her dinner which had been left unprepared because of her technology snafu. We said our goodbyes and I got one more special thank you for being such a clever and good son.
This lasted a few days. Then I got an email from my mother saying that my older brother had come to take the corpse of her computer away. This message came, as stated at the bottom, from her iPad. Apparently her computer, which had once been the heartbeat of a thriving bookkeeping business she ran for decades, was now a brick. Not the same exact machine, there had been repairs and replacements for the Dell that had been her companion through those many years as well as her source of solitaire. My mother and I went through out analog to digital conversion about the same time. She was freshly divorced and I was recently graduated from college. We both were in need of computer skills to enhance our job viability. A family friend with computer experience to spare came to our aid and taught us the way of the personal computer. Word processing, spread sheets, and floppy discs. At this time, the Internet was just a gleam in Al Gore's eye. My mother and I took these private tutorials and turned them into what would become, essentially, our careers.
Now our lives are more settled. I have a room full of PCs that I maintain as well as a fleet of Chromebooks serving two hundred and seventy-some kids and their teachers. My mother was spending time at her desk checking her email and pondering her next flurry of Frecell when the bottom dropped out of her world. Happily, another family friend had recently gifted her with an iPad that allowed her to join the wireless revolution. And the desktop machine with its screen and mouse and keyboard and speakers were on their way to electronic waste.
Time to move on.