t November 16, 2004

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This Day in My History

George Washington's
Rules of Civility
and Decent Behaviour

83rd:  When you deliver a matter do it with passion & with discretion, however mean the person be you do it to.

Yesterday's Entries

2000: Do You Still Love Me?
 The Master at Work
2002:  The Whole Tooth
2003:  Virual Miracles


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

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Sheila Videos
"See Sheila Run", "Meet Barkley"
"The Green Monster", "Sheila's Tongue"

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16 November 2004

Annie Sullivan has nothing on me! She was Helen Keller's teacher, who helped the blind, deaf Keller to begin to communicate with the world around her.

Today I introduced Roz to the Internet. I felt like she suddenly stumbled over the word "wa...ter" and began to make the connection.

One does not rush headlong into a computer lesson motif first thing in the morning, however. I woke up at my usual 6:30 and read until Roz woke up. Then we drove to a lovely restaurant and met her friends Dory and Diane for breakfast.

These are lovely, interesting, funny ladies who have made me feel like one of the group from day one. I thoroughly enjoyed spending more time with them (and the breakfast wasn't bad either!).

When we arrived home, the moment of truth had finally arrived. It was time for Roz. to. learn. e-mail.

I remember back in the early 80s when I first touched a computer and how the guy who was "training" me to use it (to input data into a database), "taught" me by pointing to the keyboard and saying "push this button...push that button...and then push this button." He went very quickly and didn't explain anything. I learned how to push buttons, but I didn't learn anything about computers.

Even in those early days, I realized that the only way to teach a rank beginner how to feel comfortable with a computer is to breathe deeply, resist the urge to say "push this button and then push that button and see how easy it is."

When you get to our age (and Roz is older than I am), you have to really take things step by step, allow time for the brain to absorb each little bit of information, sit back and not prompt when she forgets how to shut down a screen...an then give lots of positive reinforcement when she remembers that it's the little red apple at the top left of the screen and does it without you pointing it out to her.

So we started from the VERY beginning: how to open the lid of the laptop!

From there we progressed to which button to press to turn it on.

Then I explained what the things on the desktop meant (and at this point I did do a bit of hotshotting, opening things to show her how it's done--but mostly because I am Mac mostly-illterate and I wanted to be sure I understood the difference between the way a Mac operates and the way a PC operates.

When we finally had covered all of the real, real basics, we moved on to the next step: logging in to AOL.

Then I did the same thing all over again, taking it in baby steps, letting her figure out things I'd already explained to her, poo-pooing when she said over and over again how slow she was--I told her it was her very first day and that I'd been doing it for 20 years, so it was only logical I would be faster than she was!

I hadn't intended to get into explaining about instant messaging, but her daughter was on line and sent a message, so we had a couple of exchanges so I could show her how that works. Then we went back to e-mail.

By the time we'd finished, she had actually sent off an e-mail to Dory and Diane (who about fainted at breakfast when I told them I was going to get Roz comrfortable with e-mail).

Then we moved on to Google and how to look things up.

By the time we shut down the system she had a very, very rudimentary knowledge of how it works, and I gave my "you can't really screw anything up, so don't be afraid to click things" talk.

Now the real test will be tomorrow morning when I have her log on and check her e-mail again. I know she has some because I sent some to her myself, so I'll get a chance to see if she retained anything or if we have to have a refresher course already.

I also set up her AOL mailbox so that it only shows her messages from people she knows and hides all the spam, and then arranged to have her son check the spam for her so she doesn't get overwhelmed with mortgage ads, offers from Nigerian potentates, and Christian dating services.

The rest of the afternoon passed quietly. I finished the book I was reading when I got here and borrowed Roz's copy of "Trace," which I had left at home (since I didn't want to carry a hardback with me). I managed to read that whole book this afternoon while Roz read, napped, and chatted on the telephone and with me.

I have to add in a comment here about Roz. This is one incredible lady. People have been spending a lot of time talking about what a wonderful man Stan was and what a difference he made in their lives, and what joy he brought to them--and there is absolutely no doubt that this is very true. As Roz explains it, "he was this funny little man clipping his coupons, but he touched so many lives." I still sit here missing the sound of his laughter, and the way his personality just filled a room.

But Roz is a very special woman. I don't think I have ever met anyone who was so genuinely interested in everybody and who cared so much for (almost) everyone she meets. I have listened all weekend to stories of her friends, their children, their family history, their problems, and all with such love and caring.

The phone here rings about nonstop, with friends calling to chat, or her children and their spouses calling to check in several times a day--or just to share a thought they had or a funny idea or something. She's organizing meals for one friend who was in an accident and just returned from the hospital. Last night we invited a neighbor to go to dinner with us because she shouldn't be alone.

I so admire her.

All this attention is not because of Stan's death, though perhaps part of it is. This is what I remember from previous visits as well, Roz's involvement in the lives of her friends and her genuine love for all of them.

As for her children and grandchildren, the love just pours out of her. There are no brighter, wittier, more beautiful people in the world. I've known people who talk about their kids and they are so obnoxious about it, but with Roz, there is such joy in her stories that it's a delight to listen to them, and I am leaving here feeling like a part of the family. And interspersed among her explanations about other people is a genuine interest in my life, my kids' life, the life of my daughters-in-law, Walt, his mother, his siblings, my mother.

This is just a lady who loves life and loves people and you won't find her curling up into a ball because for the first time in 69 years she finds herself living alone.

I will be out of here mid-day tomorrow and, unless I have to spend another night in Houston, home late tomorrow night. It's been a delightful trip. I came here to be supportive of Roz, and it's ended up that I have gotten as much out of this trip as she has, and perhaps more.

I suspect that is the reaction of most of the people she encounters.

Website of the Day

Roz's daughter, Jill, has written a book called "Angel Cafe" which I have ordered from Amazon. She has a website about it.


There may be a stuffie population explosion here soon!



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