Without thinking even 60 seconds, I hit the Buy Now button and sent my 89-year old father his first computer, a brilliant blue IMac. The same day I wrote him a letter, gave him my email address, and told him to email me when he got the IMac.

Then I waited, nervously, anxiously. I’d never gotten my father such a big present and I’d had no indication from him whatsoever that he was interested in having a computer. He seemed happy plugging out letters on his vintage 30’s Underwood typewriter which he kept under a dust cover on a special table in his office. It was the machine he used to type out my mother’s obituary. I know. I sat next to him and watched.

His wife, my mother, had died just three months before. He filled his days reading big fat novel after big fat novel, so popular at the local library that he found himself checking out the same book a second and third time. There was always a hardcover book with its spine cracked resting on the table next to his chair, the TV tuned to CNN. It was what he did all day long when he wasn’t doing his errands or being checked on by relatives. He would admit to me only in the slightest way that he was lonely. “It’s just not the same without Mom,” he would say. I bet. Sixty-four years of constant companionship, yes, being totally alone would have to be pretty different.

So I thought the IMac would be perfect. Connect him to the internet, maybe get him interested in travelling again. It’s amazing what the arms’ length grievers think the primary grievers ought to think about. The idea that my father would ever go on a trip again was cracked; as I would find out over the next couple of years, he was loathe to be farther than an hour’s drive from his home and my mother’s grave. His was a very small orbit. It’s what he wanted.

I waited days to hear from him about the IMac but there was no word, no email, no letter. There would not have been a phone call; I didn’t expect one. Neither of us used the phone to communicate. He had called me only once in my life and I’ll let you guess why.

As the days went by, I started to get the unpleasant feeling that I had overstepped, sent him too big a present, made him feel uncomfortable, maybe even upset him. Maybe, like many older people, he had taken offense at having gotten something ‘newfangled’ that he hadn’t asked for and didn’t want and would now have to cope with the expectation that he would use. I regretted having sent him the IMac, hated myself for my endless impulsivity and for thinking that having a computer would be ‘just the ticket’ as my father would say to deal with his extraordinary, unspoken grief.

But life is full of surprises.

Dear Janice, This is quite a Father’s Day present. Thank you. I’m sorry it has taken so long to get this first email to you. I had to get some help getting going. TIE (take it easy) and SIT (stay in touch), Dad


This is a reposting of a piece originally posted 9/28/13.

16 Comments on “TIE and SIT

  1. I love your Dad, he’ super-cool! I love his TIE and SIT! LOL! God bless his soul! You’re blessed to have him! I was compellingly retired when I turned 60. Only then I realized how ‘technology challenged’ I was, e.g. I hardly knew how to use a laptop (‘though I was kind of expert in navigating a desktop computer at work). My retirement was a blessing in disguise because it pushed me to learn everything about digital technology, e.g. social media, writing eBooks, navigating the blogosphere, etc. Had it not been through the digital technology, I wouldn’t have known that I have what it takes to be a writer. I keep on keeping on, dreaming of being one of the best eBook writers among the Baby Boomers! 60’s, a challenging life but a good life!

  2. Lovely memory! My dad is on his umpteenth computer. He does not so much use them as do battle with them. But he keeps trying. Always. I love that about him.

  3. This is very comforting to read. My own father is 82 and I am quite worried about him since my mother is very ill. I fret over what to do, how to support him, and taking chances. as I read this, I remember yo have hope, something I need dearly this week. Thank you for sharing your beutiful moment.


  4. I love this! He’s well on his way to BFF and TTFN:). My mother, in her 80s, decided to master the Internet and email. I still laugh that she would print emails from her friends she wanted to share with me and send them via snail mail. But, she had a ball. I hope your dad does too!

    • Plus he was constantly changing his internet provider until he got the lowest price on the planet. He didn’t do much on his computer but he did email. It was pretty great that he did.

  5. Haha! Or I should probably say LOL! Good on your Dad. I hope he has many pleasure filled days from your generous gift.

    • He passed away several years ago but he seemed to like being a little current on the technology front. I think it helped him SIT.

  6. Oh how my mind was racing in anticipation of the ending: did he find a new woman? did he toss the thing? But TIE and SIT? Outstanding! A great laugh, thank you!

  7. I just love how you write. Simple, honest and engaging. If you ever wrote a book I wouldn’t miss it!

    • Funny you should mention….I am putting together a set of essays to be published in a small book. It’s been quite the little project but I think I’m nearing the finish line.

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