It was no fluke that our Mother, Albina, the Southport Belle, was an early CyberSenior !
During WWiI she did her part of keeping the homefires burning , making ammunition for Remington Arms in Bridgeport Connecticut. Then she married my Sci-tech wiz Father and one or the other of them was always "up to something" innovative. The wonderful Christmas gold foil star - entirely their invention, was promise re: the gold foil Dad later fashioned - the foil we see on the photos of NASA's Lunar Lander July 20, 1969. Later she helped for a bit at Bullard's in Bridgeport doing up some fine tooling to thousandths of an inch. She enjoyed the first plug in phones in the fifties - four-prong things. She served up plain and fancy from the first push-button Frigidaire kitchen ranges and hers was PINK. The latest in hearing aids empowered her in her twenties and later and TTY kept us on the phone and in touch when apart. Since email won the ultmate victory, she was Simply THERE for it - you could hear her jubilant at the world it reopened, when her ears closed! Now it was instant fun to all of her loved ones all over the world - photos, notes, greetings and news....music and prayer...YES! No isolation anymore.
Of course, time passes: After thirty years of "fine online" , the Southport Belle aged out of most computing, some years ago.
But she had no issues with SKYPE and all the rest until true old age physically prevented her.
She was THE Cyber Senior in her own right - she felt no lack of tech support. We followed suit - I did my first data processing in 1969 for Wright investors - though in those days no one got anywhere near the actual machine - it filled a room and one mistake could cost a fortune to fix. Still I was formatting the copy for the programmer. Exciting, till pregnancy took me home for a bit.
I code, and my website has been onlline since 1999. My sister runs the computers for folk in Pennsylvania, my Brother has published online and his book is in the libraries...for him the computer is an automatic tool. My late husband helped the computer upgrades for Wellcome in North Carolina, and he would be proud of his son - international IT whiz for Hearst and others with a production company of his own. My daughter nearby worked online in graphics, for ACS and for her own things enough to be able to run to Gram's to unfreeze a thing.
With all of us there to support her easily in it, Tech for our Mother won thru for her and triumph that gave her a few extra years of life I am sure.
But realize that this every fun and insight we enjjoy is a major Leap for Mankind and that , when I was a girl , not THAT long ago, Sci-Tech interests were still controversial and some days in the 40s and 50s all scientists and brainy-types were Baron Von Frankenstein and intrinsically mad and evil.
Fortunately, that way of things passed quickly and almost entirely ended - thanks to television, the Salk Vaccine , Heart transplants and the Moon Landing. Okay ... maybe science had something going for it. "From now on.." Sci-tech types were allowed. They could get fairly stable community liking. We all use technology to grand effect today.
There was only one technical difficulty:
Astronauts often find spacecraft easy to drive, but get tickets on the road with their cars - a few did not drive over this anomaly.
So maybe this???
It was the fifties - and time to learn to drive - Mother's lessons with the automobile would bring her "up to speed" . As a young woman, she'd been photographed with her famous bicycle WWII pinup-style among herrown - tall and long-legged, she could look pretty on a bicycle, while the rest of us struggled thru Southpor's hilly terrain. So she enjoyed her bike and let driving slide. But married with children who needed a Mother who could drive, it was time to get the license.
When? The window? Seven months expectant, Mother said she preferred to go to "diving school" - Dad WWII flyboy and All American car nut said, "Nonsense - cars-R-us ... I can train you.". OKayyyyyyy......and it went fairly well, until...... One sunny afternoon, during on-the-road practice, Mother was doing so well, Dad praised her, then to demo his confidence, lit up a cigar and leaned back in the passenger seat expressing confidence in body language - for about five seconds:
then, as always happens, Mother took the cue to make her first navigational error, almost turning for a left turn in front of another car.
Dad had to grab the wheel from Mother FAST to prevent a collision - so fast, that he put that cigar in his mouth backward! Lucy and Rick on the road? YouBetcha! The story stayed....
"Okay, maybe driving school is a better idea."
End of DIY driving instruction
Mother graduated with flying colors and drove proudly till age 85, when little imaginary Polish men began to accompany her for moral support: "Ohhh Albina! What a fine driver you are!" , they would say. Terrified, she went home and turned herself in for medical care. I am quoting her. She also turned in her license and got meds to end the imaginary visits and was soon fine. Yay! Modern health options!
Technology saved Mother's life..... hearing aid and phone amplifier were a start. She was thrilled that her children were not impaired but I was six when she tearfully gave in to that firsthearing aid. I had a Scottish nanny at the time; "Auntie May" was brought in to be there, earn her citizenship and help us thru the "little bad moment" while Mother adjusted - and it was a huge success. May Cote was cheery, kind affectionate , quick and smart and the home was a happy one , even thru Mother's challenge. She did win her citizenship with Mother's sponsoship and a wonderful husband. And later she was at my wedding , in fox furs and handsome prince Armand Cote for a spouse of many years. So far from that first meeting long ago when I wondered to her, fearfully, what could be wrong with my Mommy. She explained very well and suggested I might enjoy helping her, too, when needed. Wow! A child can help? This is like being a super person ! I loved it and it enhanced my development and gave me power over the sorrow of her hearing loss and what that meant to me. To get up and HELP - yes...that was the way.
As her issues worsened I was helped by "The Miracle Worker" and its story ..." I am a little like Annie Sullivan to Helen Keller", I thought. Mother was not even thirty when that first hearing aid was put to work, and disability is not easy to accept when young. There were lots of tears off and on, for some time till Mother mastered lipreading and life was fine again for all involved. She got so good, that , years later, when she visited me, off in my own married life, far from home roots, I would not tell my neighbors and friends at social events of her deafness and they did not know! Fun to see them drop their coffee cups later when I revealed her secret. So proud.
Technology saved the day!
She'd won her breakthrough ! Lip-reading, she won jobs that anyone would envy - some of them very high-tech as well - and soon we cheered over TDD - the typing phone service for the deaf and then it was the logical progression - online with emails and cyberspace! FUN!
Mother was Thrilled! Her friends were thrilled! Her Children were thrilled! Her Grandchildren were thrilled!
And soon her Great-grandchildren thrilled as well! We teased her and called her cyber-babbling cyberpunk...and she was thrilled all over again!
Caption phone was added and flashing light for phone bells and doorbells.
She lived very much on her own and proud to be so. We stayed in very good touch and ran to help as needed.
We liked her style. Having been challenged, she got after it , time and again and she won thru, and would cheer us on with the words about how important it is to proceed with faith and hopw and love and never give up. She gave us that - the joy of life and the duty to pay it forward - the joy of being able to pay it forward.
And one more triumph for the Year of the Tiger spirit of the amazing Southport Belle.
Many years later, When an injury impacted my own powers, I joined her in new kinds of friendship - working and traveling and loving and living online sometimes.
And so we have done as a mainstay since - and as our Mother fades in her last days, I am already through the worst of my grieving because my part of it happened when she could no longer SKYPE, over two years ago.
But "they can't take that away from me - the grand times are there and will stay.
I hope these strong and loving stories help and share a good thing with all - there is enough of the other.
If you liked this story, share it and may it inspire - because there is more to come.