Never too old

My grandfather passed away last Sunday, November 22nd 2009, at the grand old age of 97.

There are many reasons I respected my grandfather. After all, he was my grandfather. I could have chosen to write that he became a full-time carer of my grandmother in his 80s, how active he was in his church community, or any number of things.

But it’s his decision to get a computer and onto the internet about three years ago, aged 94 that prompts this piece. Not that this was his greatest achievement, but because we write about the internet here.

To put this into perspective, he was 25 when Alan Turing described the Turing Machine and 65 when the Apple II launched. He was already 80 years old when Microsoft released Windows 3.1.

It would be re-writing of history to say that granddad was the most competent computer user in the world. A few months ago he left this message on my answering machine:

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. <click>

I called back a few minutes later and he was slightly upset because he’d lost an email he’d written to my sister. For people my age, this wouldn’t be a big deal — we know how and where to look for a stray email. If the message is completely lost, using computers and sending emails is our second nature so it takes only a few moments to recompose ourselves and the email.

Another time, he’d managed to block my aunt and uncle’s email address in Outlook and needed help unblocking it.

Aged 94, Granddad gave it a try. Years later and weeks before he passed away, he was still trying to learn more about the software on his computer. I could not be prouder of having a man like that as my granddad. He learnt from us and we learnt from him.

If you’re not willing to try something because you think you’re too old, try anyway and you might surprise yourself. If you don’t want to try, that’s fine too.

Dedicated to Ron Feltscheer, Jan 1st 1912 ? Nov 22nd 2009.

Published by Peter Wilson

Peter Wilson is a Senior WordPress Engineer at Human Made and contributor to WordPress core. Peter has worked on the web for twenty years on everything from table based layouts in the 90s to enterprise grade CMS development. Peter’s a big fan of musical theater and often encourages his WordPress community colleagues to join him for a show or two in New York or in the West End.

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