My father didn’t suck with computers, but my mother certainly did.

My father didn’t discover computers until late in life. He was almost 50 when I bought him an Atari Space Invaders game that he could hook up to his TV. He didn’t think much of the game, but he could see, oh, yes, he could see the possibilities, the promise of what was to come. And after that, he bought every computerized gadget, game, and whatnot he could get his hands on, including a TRS-80.

Much later, when he bought his first 286, he turned into a geek. It was impossible to tear him away from his computer. He hauled it to work (they didn’t have one) and he hauled it home at the end of the day in the trunk of his BMW. Within a year, he was writing code.

My mother lamented her fate as a “computer widow.” She harangued him endlessly about how they never spent time together playing scrabble, how they never talked anymore. He was a very sweet man, and not at all immune to her sentiments. So he gave her unhappiness careful consideration and bought her a computerized Singer sewing machine.


She had a low tolerance for gadgets, gizmos, and instruction manuals and this machine sewed neither forward nor back unless you spoke its language. She almost threw it into a swimming pool in frustration at one point. But over time, she learned how to make it do what she wanted it to do, albeit a bit roughly for a computerized sewing machine. So, for a while, there was relative peace.

That is, until he died unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, following a thoroughly satisfying programming day and a good home-cooked meal.

As it turned out, he’d written a program for the Canadian Department of External affairs. A couple of days after he died, two officials came to my mother’s home and confiscated not only the program, but the computer as well. Later I tried to pursue this, but without success.And thereafter I couldn't mention the word "computer" without evoking my mother's anger. And I understood that.

In any event

I have inherited both my father’s love of computers and my mother’s sewing machine (which I sometimes use - what a great sewing machine), along with a fascination with code, and a hatred of manuals and governmental bodies.