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Prime Time | Marilyn Heltzer: The iPad, iPod and iPhone are far from Grandma Ida’s reality

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You recall my column in last month’s Prime Time, don’t you? Of course you do. Then again, maybe not. As we age, our minds get more and more cluttered: people, places, stories, even recipes and directions on How to Get There.

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But you may (or may not) recall that one of the items on my bucket list was getting an iPad and iPhone. I neglected to mention that I’d need to master them both. I hope that by the time you read this, I will have done just that, making use of the wisdom and skills of daughters, other young people, online instructions, and the good folks at the Verizon store.

Right now, it’s all mind-boggling. There’s so much to learn and being a competitive person, I want to know it all. Right now.

I wonder what my Grandma Ida would have thought of it all. She lived on a farm south of town. We’d come up from the cities to visit her, and a clump of other relatives, each Christmas. As we tromped into the house a few days before the big day, bringing waves of cold in from the winter night, we’d find Grandma sitting in on the davenport in the living room. A circle of light shown down from a lamp on the wall. She was reading the Bible. A book. All she needed.

She’d say a hearty “hello”, pull herself up from the sofa, and hug us four kids. Then she’d go to the kitchen to put the coffee on. We’d all sit around the kitchen table with coffee for mom, dad, and grandma, milk for the kids, and fresh cookies for all.

Grandma Ida lived a hard-working life. She’d buried grandpa years ago, after her brood of seven kids were all married off. Many lived within a few miles of her farmhouse. Two sons lived on the home place, and tended to the farm chores.

Grandma did not know about the TV remote. Or television, for that matter. She never learned to keyboard. Her original language was Swedish and her letters to us were in the broken English she talked. Her babies were delivered by a neighbor with midwifery skills. And iPads, iPods and iPhones were a long ways in the future as grandma sat on that sofa, reading.

She might have been impressed by one skill that I’ve picked up. My oldest daughter, who helped me buy the IPad, figured out how to put the latest John Grisham book into a bookshelf on my iPad.  I can open that, and the device knows just where I left off. I turn the electronic pages with a flick of a finger. My sister who got her iPad last summer plays a game with one of her granddaughters and she’s invited me to join in. Maybe soon. But not just yet. There are many things to master before I get into games. Then again, maybe by the time you read this, a couple of weeks after I’ve written it, I’ll game away.

Now in my English teaching years, game was a noun. But maybe it’s a verb as well. There’s another mystery that Grandma Ida never had to contemplate: parts of speech, and what’s right. She did, however, learn a whole new language and I’ve always said that if she had the opportunity to have the education and experiences available to me, she might well have been governor of the state. Or even president. She was a smart woman. If she’d bought an iPad or iPhone, Ida would have mastered both by now.

It’s time I got going.

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