Yesterday my father posted his first entry on the blog which I helped him set up this week. He printed out the page and brought it to his assistant, Kathy, and he read it again over her shoulder. It was a moment: the debut of a blog and a new project which seems to be delighting Dad. Our shared excitement reminded me of when I helped him buy his first Macintosh nearly 20 years ago. He and my mother have kept fitful pace with the computer revolution ever since, frequently feeling overwhelmed by all that can go wrong with even the simplest of tasks. But I’ve been proud of their ability to stay current, sending and receiving e-mail and surfing the web with above-average prowess for their pre-digital generation.
Not that creation of a blog has been an altogether calm family project. My mother weighed in with strong opinions about the innocuous little tagline on Dad’s blog, which he first envisioned as “A retiree learning something new every day.” I liked this descriptor for its blog-appropriate informality and directness, but my mother went batshit. To her, the word “retiree” connotes sacks of blubber rotting on deck chairs or Barker Loungers, waiting for their no-account offspring to haul them off to the Home. In an unpleasant conversation in the kitchen yesterday morning, I suggested that she back off and let Dad create his blog without her interference. This quickly escalated to politics, Bill Clinton’s Oval Office blow job (it was quite a moment to hear my mother actually use that term, an indication of her rage) and how my generation has…well, no need to refight the sixties today on such a pleasant Friday morning. In the end, her critique led to what I think is a much better tag line for Dad’s blog, “An optimist confronting reality.”
The genesis of my father’s blog is a typically optimistic plan he has for helping keep America strong in the next 15 years, a time period he chose because he sees himself going strong until at least age 93. I am helping him learn the Blogger tools, and I bought him a Pentax Optio digital camera, so he can experiment with adding photos. For the first post, we benefited from a serendipity. His brother’s children had prepared a CD of old family photos, and we found one of Dad, his father, and his brother at Ocean Park, Maine, 70 some years ago. My father is seen leaning forward, a boy optimist gazing into the future, then as now.