Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Who is this, and what have you done with my father? That’s what I wanted to ask the last time my dad came to visit, which just happened to be yesterday.

He walked into the room with a techy-looking object dangling from his neck and pronounced it was some sort of magical Bluetooth device that connected his iPhone to his hearing aid. After a dash of smelling salts and some time in a dark room, I’ve come to terms with his technological metamorphosis.

That hearing aid, by the way, appears to be one of the few electronic devices he owns not made by those smarty-pants Apple people. He also has a MacBook Pro, iPod and iPad, and I think by now they’re probably all networked to his ionic toothbrush and GPS-enabled sneakers. Next he’ll probably figure out how to download fresh produce via iCloud. At the age of 70-plus, he’s quickly eclipsing my own technical expertise, and I’m torn between pride and personal humiliation.

As a final indignity, he recently bought, installed and now deftly uses Photoshop, a complex computer application that makes my brain curdle and explode at least twice a week. To put that achievement in perspective, Photoshop is what caused Stephen Hawking to shake his fist at the screen and shout, “You win! I give up!” before turning his attention to unraveling the origins of the universe.

I’m proud of my dad. Though a master of many skills, he never learned to type, and until a couple years ago knew virtually nothing about using a computer. Now he’s composing his own emails, creating PowerPoint presentations, recklessly Facebooking and Skyping and giving me free, unsolicited tech support. Technology has become infinitely more accessible and he’s adopting it with mind-blowing gusto.

Watching my father makes me think that maybe his won’t be quite the reluctant, technology-phobic generation we expected. All his gizmos and gadgets have brought new energy and the thrill of discovery, and if the expanding field of aging services technology can also make his life more safe and comfortable as he ages, I know he’ll embrace that too.

That’s a relief, because I won’t be able to help much. I’ll still be home trying to learn Photoshop.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.