How the iPad is improving the life of my mother-in-law … and ours.

This is the story of two iPads and two people. On two different continents, 5,600 miles and 74 years apart. First the good news.

The PC didn't do it, but the iPad did.

The PC didn’t do it, but the iPad did.

My mother in law is now 84, she’s on her third battle with cancer, she lives on a farm in a small town in the middle of Holland, and she called me the other day … to let me know that the new iPad Mini was out. I smile to myself as I do only when something makes me happy in such a simple way. It’s a pure happiness that’s deep, it’s the kind where I couldn’t not smile.

[quote]I dare say this is life-changing technology.[/quote]

She still calls the thing an “EE-pot” (in Dutch, the “i” is pronounced like an English “e”) and it has, I can safely say, changed her life. She checks the weather and the news, stocks and even Formula 1 news (she’s a big Shumacher fan). We are now using Shared Photo Stream so that we choose photos for her to see and she can seem them immediately on her ee-pot, nine time zones ahead of us. She makes comments in Dutch and (some of) my family guesses what she says. We can now even share video through Photo Stream. We also do FaceTime and even better recently is FaceTime audio.

She’s been writing emails recently, for the first time since she first gave it a try maybe ten years ago when her son bought her a Windows computer. She, at 73, took a computer course in her village, was very diligent about it, but it just didn’t, pardon the pun, click. Icons and mice, start buttons and email programs, she just never really got it.

But now she’s a regular resource for information. Need the weather report? How about news for the village? The country? Latest photos from her grandkids? She’s on it. We’re more in touch, she gets photos very regularly, she writes comments, even emails.

We are more connected, we have a better relationship, we are closer.

We already had a close relationship–I’m one of the lucky ones who has a great mother-in-law. But especially because she’s so far away, it brings us closer through photos, videos, comments, emails and phone and video calls.

I’m a techie guy. I like, appreciate, and enjoy technology. I’m happy to “push” it when I think it helps. This I didn’t push, her son bought it for her. I write this today because I’m so proud of her that she gave it a try and wasn’t “scared of technology.” Now she loves the thing, dare I say, can’t live without it. OK, I won’t go that far, but it’s improved her life dramatically and both directly and indirectly, mine too.

  • Possible: get them a pen and paper to write letters.
  • Impossible: teach an 73-year old how to use a PC.
  • Repossible: leapfrog technology and make it easy on them–and you.