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In His 82 Years, Technology Changed – And Dad Changed With it

When your dad is no longer with you, Father’s Day can be difficult. But technology, and the wonders that can come with it, make it a little easier to be a daughter missing her dad on this day.

While some octogenarians bemoan modern technology and the difficulty of using it, my 82-year-old dad was an internet surfer. He was always an avid reader, visiting the library often to stock up.  So I sold him on the internet by telling him it was a library, open 24/7/365.

I always thought Dad’s acceptance of modern technology was remarkable because he was born on a rural North Dakota farm with no electricity, no telephone, no running water and no indoor plumbing. The child of German immigrants, he didn’t learn English until he started school, though he only attended through eighth grade. His labor was needed on the farm.

He later learned the sheet metal trade through a correspondence course. He’d complete his workbooks at home, mail them in and receive the grades back in the mail. Dad was a well-read man, a woodworker and a math whiz. He was curious.

Dad’s journey to the information superhighway wasn’t a particularly smooth one, but the fact that he even found his way to the on ramp is nothing short of amazing.

He wasn’t ready to use a computer and navigate all its complexities, but he was intrigued by what it could do. So, in 2001, as a Best Buy employee, I bought him a WebTV.

It was a simple device that used his TV as the display. With the keyboard and remote at his fingertips, Dad had the whole world in his hands.  He surfed the internet – voraciously researching anything that came to his curious mind. He’d hear websites advertised on the radio or TV, and he’d jot down the addresses on the back of envelopes from his stack of mail. He looked up every website he wrote down.

Unfortunately, Dad passed away when social media was just taking off. I know he would have loved interacting with relatives, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren across the country in this way. I can picture him sitting in his favorite chair and using the latest tablet to search the internet, email family and friends, read books, watch documentaries and Skype to watch his great-grandchildren grow before his eyes.

He exceeded my expectations in embracing the World Wide Web in its infancy and understanding that technology could keep our family connected. To this day, the emails he sent me – short, but filled with affection – are treasures!

Thank you, technology. Thank you, Dad.


Clarissa Wolf is a communications specialist at Best Buy who writes articles for store employees and leadership.