It's possible that Dad will stop gardening because he's addicted to the BBC Sport app, but I think he'll be OKby Cathy Rentzenbrink / January 30, 2019 / Leave a comment
My dad comes round with his first ever phone. He’s 69 and before now he and my mother have shared one, though she’s the person who actually uses it, as she is in charge of banking, paperwork and communicating with the outside world.
“It’s smart, isn’t it?” Dad says, meaning that it is attractive and neat, and I wonder how many people become the owner of a smartphone without knowing what it is called. We set him up with an Apple ID. It takes a long time to find a variation of his name that isn’t already being used by someone else and we go through all the security questions, puzzling over how to spell the name of his first pet and who to put down as his best friend at school. The magic moment arrives and I send him his first ever email: “I didn’t know your first car was a Mini.”
He laughs. None of this come easily to him. He hardly went to school, ran away to sea when he was 15, eventually became a miner and then a publican. He is gifted with anything practical or that involves machinery but his big fingers struggle to grip the shiny black rectangle that he now needs to navigate modern life.
What my parents are doing is training each other up for solo living. They will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary in June and they are a good partnership, each contributing to the relationship according to their own talents. But now they’ve heard too many horror stories of a surviving spouse failing to thrive because they don’t know how to check the boiler pressure, or use the banking app or get into the safe that holds the family documentation. They want to be able to cope when one of them loses functionality so they are making sure they can both do everything.
Dad programmes in my husband’s mobile number and prepares to send his first text.
“What shall I say?”
“Try, ‘This is my new phone. From Kevin.’”
It takes him a long time and he presses send with a great air of triumph.
There’s a near immediate beep.
Dad peers at the screen, “It says, ‘Who is this, please?’”