Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An Unconventinal 4th

4th of July.  Commonly, a day of parades, picnics, fireworks, and gathering with friends.

Our significant event of the day was a small boost for the American economy.  We went to the Apple Store.

Let it be said up front that, without any effort on her part whatsoever, my mother raised two children who cannot live without computers.  Ian has always used Apple products.  I have been a PC user.  Then I got an iPhone.  Next came the Mac.  Now I'm trying to figure out if an iPad is a toy or a tool.  

But our mother has been resistant.  When our father was alive, she said she would not get a computer because HE would expect her to do all his secretarial work.  I don't know why she thought it would be any different than her daily use of a typewriter, at least on our father's expectation for her to provide secretarial support, but that's what she said.  Then she said she didn't want to bother with learning something new.

On Monday, Ian dropped by.   They were talking about a split in one of their stocks, and he picked up his iPad to find out if it had actually recorded.  Then he check on the number of shares she owns -- of a different stock.  He did a couple of other things on the iPad before she asked, "What's that?"  Ian told her.  Then, "What does it do?"   He explained that it is a little, light-weight computer.

The telling question:  "Can I use it for genealogy?"  Ian asked what sort of genealogy tasks she wanted to do.  "I want to find for myself some of the things that Bonnie finds for me on the computer."  Ian, who is NOT a genealogist, looked at me.  I figure that if you can search the Internet on a computer, you can probably search the Internet on an iPad.    "Yes," I told her, "you can use it for genealogy."

We were not expecting the next question.  "How much?"  Ian and I both went scrambling for price checks.  iPad 2 or 3?  New or refurbished?  When it became clear even to our mother that we were considering online purchase, she added, "I want to look around before I buy one."  Patiently, Ian explained the avantages of buying from the Apple Store only a half-mile away.

So itt was that our 98-year-old mother made her first trip EVER into an Apple Store on the 4th of July, and came home with a brand new iPad 3.

The folk at the Apple Store were superb.  They allowed her to avoid the long (it is long if you depend on a walker and find a trip through Safeway a week's worth of exercise) walk through the mall and actually come in through the sacrosanct back door.  Noah, her salesperson was friendly, knowledgeable, and dealt gracefully with the three-way discussion (our mother, Ian and myself) as we tried to explain what Black vs. White means in the context of iPad body color, who was going to actually make the purchase, and who would get the system up and running for her.

She spent the afternoon searching.  There was only marginal success on the search front, but she is certainly getting the hang of the new gadget.   Which right now is still very much a toy.

Give thanks for 98-year-old brains that are still excited about learning new skills.  Don't forget to pray ....