Fairies and Technology (HLD 80)

10 June 2020

I was chatting with Mum the other day, and was a little perturbed when she told me she’s been thinking about Euthanasia. Until she told me she wonders whether they are any different to youth in Australia?

That’s my Mum for you – just when you think she really is “Off with the fairies”, as she insists on a regular basis, she throws something like that out to let you know that the joy of the ‘play on words’ type of humour is still in there.

Mum’s at the stage in her life when her memory is definitely on the decrease. It still concerns her, which in my mind means we have a way to go yet.  But there are very definite gaps in her memory. Her brain still appears to enjoy disturbing her most impressionably daughter with a bit of a joke, though.

Mum has always been very difficult to extract memories from – this is not a recent thing. Many many years ago I gave her a book to fill in, with spaces provided for her to write about her childhood, her relatives, her schooling, etc etc etc. Heaps and heaps of space.

After quite a few years, I checked the book on a visit to see Mum and Dad, and saw written in the front page “Don’t have time to do this now”., “I’ll get on to this soon, I promise” and even comments on pages that said “You know all this anyway”.  This at least proved to me that she had in fact looked at the book, just didn’t write anything of use down in it.

Nowadays, of course, Mum will simply tell you she is “off with the fairies”, as her memory decreases at a rapidly increasing  pace. The benefit of this is that I can now tell her all sorts of blatant lies about what she did as a child, and she will say “Did I? I really don’t remember…”

There are websites around that tell you they can get a book printed up of your elderly relatives memories. Looks fascinating, until you realise that these clever people will email your old relative a question each week, and compile their (assumably prompt) answers into the promised book. If I’d had to wait for Mum to reply to an email, even ten years ago, I might still be waiting. She was never a big one for emails or computer stuff.

Older people often use the excuse of their age for not understanding technology. There may be something in that, but my experience has been that if said technology gives them something they want, you can still teach the old dogs new tricks. 

Nearly ten years ago when we were living in the US, and my sister was living in Queensland, my Dad learnt how to use Skype very quickly. He wasn’t so crash hot on working out the time difference between Australia and the US, and we had to learn to take out Skype offline before going to bed, if we didn’t want to be woken by Dad at 2am for a chat. But to keep in regular video contact with his girls, Dad worked it out remarkably quickly – for a man who still used his old typewriter over the computer regularly.

And Mum, for whom technology and electrical devices were always a bit of an issue, has a little electronic device that helps her to solve anagrams. It does an awful lot of other things as well, but Mum knows what buttons to press, and in what sequence, to get to the anagram solving option. She loves doing the 9 letter word search in the newspaper, but over the years it’s gotten quite a bit harder for her to do. Her little machine gives her job satisfaction of knowing she worked out the word each day.  We have always called it her cheat machine, but I do prefer the option of SOLVING machine. She is still using her brain, just in a different way.

I was talking with a couple of women my age a few days ago and we were pondering a few computery things, like how to change admin permissions on a chat program. We were pleasantly surprised to know you CAN teach an ageing (middle aged?) dog new tricks also. Although we’d all probably deny that people born in ‘63 are ageing. Much.

So until I’m off with the fairies as well, I will keep having a go at new sorts of technology. Whether it’s sending a bcc email, from an unfamiliar email account, or working out how to play an hour long YouTube video on my TV of rubbish trucks, to keep my grandson amused – it’s worth it to keep the fairies at bay for as long as possible.

I don’t think my kids will ask me to write about my childhood history, though. They know it would be a very long book.

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