Helping my 94 year old friend setup his new learning tools

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

What keeps Bob going every day

Bob turned 94 in January 2019. Bob’s obsessed with two things: golf and bowling. What keeps Bob going every day, his obsession with getting better at bowling and golf. Bob forgets that he’s 94 and cannot do either like when he was 74. Bob will make every attempt to improve, that’s just what he wants to do.

Bob lives in the same home he did when his wife was alive. He’s made a few changes over the years after his wife passed. He has added blue highlights here and there throughout his home both inside and out.

In making other changes he asks my opinion, “what do you think” and my answer every time is “Do you like it?”, he says “Yes,” and I’ll say “then that’s what counts, and we’d move onto another conversation.

About Bob

Bob met Ruth on the golf course in 1971. Someone introduced them and set up the first meeting on the golf course. Bob was excited that the first date with Ruth was on the golf course. He soon discovered that Ruth was a better golfer, but that did not bother him. Bob was comfortable in his own skin.

Ruth and Bob had prior unsuccessful relationships and soon discovered their interest in many areas and mindsets overlapped with each other. Ruth had three children, two which were grown and not living at home. The third child was several years from graduating high school. She became the one closest to Bob, she is the executor of his will to this day.

They were both comfortable with their relationship and soon married. Ruth had three children, one still at home at the time they married. The other two were grown, out and about with their own lives.

Bob had three children from his first marriage. After the divorce the children decided against contact with Bob, and for many years that was the case. They seemed to blame Bob and did not understand that there are two sides to every story. Later in his life they reached out, but did not continue much contact. Ruth’s three children are close to Bob with the youngest one being the closest.

Meeting Bob

I first met Bob at a golf fundraiser. I was there by myself and so was he. They teamed us up and put both of us in the same golf cart. We seem to hit it off because maybe Bob was about the age of my father had he lived longer. We chatted about life and about his wife who had a stroke several years ago, limiting her speech. He was the primary caregiver.

Maybe a Laptop could be helpful

After the initial introduction to Bob, I learned about his wife who had a stroke several years and was having issues speaking. After some discussion, I suggested maybe a laptop could help since she had typed before. Bob agreed, and I soon secured a recycled laptop for Ruth to try. Her coordination was good, but she couldn’t type anything that was readable.

Prepared Meals

Bob would cook from time to time, he had observed Ruth culinary skills over the years and more than able to prepare meals. There were times that other family members prepared meals, or brought meals for Bob and Ruth. Other times Bob would order to-go meals from many of the local restaurants.

My lovely wife enjoys preparing meals. She always makes way more than for two people and we most of the time had leftovers for the next day.

After checking with my wife, I offered to bring meals from time to time, if that was OK, and Bob said yes. Soon my wife made meals several times a week and I’d drop off the prepared meals. The meals were full courses, the same meal we ate, packed up, and delivered the next day.

Ruth Passing

Ruth passed away in 2014 at 87. Bob and Ruth were a tremendous example of a solid, loving marriage to their friends and family. Bob misses Ruth every day, and shares memories from time to time with me. At the time of Ruth’s passing, Bob and Ruth were married 43 years.

After Ruth’s passing, we seemed to increase meal delivery. This gave me the ability to check in on Bob more frequently. Bob would take one meal and make it into two or three sometimes. I would deliver the meals, place them in the refrigerator, and know how much food he had on hand. This way I could respond to my wife on the portion of food created, and she would ask “should I include Bob?”

Everything and anything related to Technology

Over the course of several years Bob and I would talk about electronics in his home. And I would help him solve issues he had from time to time. Computers, remote control, cable boxes, and other electronics.

Soon Bob would have a list of items to discuss, most related to technology. At first, it was an issue with his cable box, then TV, next computer, or the internet. I would either know how to fix, Google it for the fix, or last resort, call the company support number.

Bob would read the newspaper technology talk section and ask questions like “do I need to upgrade my router?”, or “should I change something to the new something?” I would talk it through with him asking questions, giving him my opinion, and letting him decide.

Bob started asking me for advice on any topic

It didn’t take long before the topics would be about almost anything.

I agreed to help Bob and told him the story about my grandmother. My grandmother lived in an ocean community because she loves to have the ocean close by her. She lived in a small two-bedroom house by herself until she was 93. That’s the way she wanted it. She had a local man who agreed to help her even though he knew she had little to no money to pay him. He helped with odds and ends as she needed help. I would help Bob with the notion, I was repaying what that man did for my grandmother and paying it forward to a time where I might need help.

Upgrade to Smartphone Technology

When I first met Bob he had a simple flip phone. But after a while his daughter encouraged him to get a smartphone. He did not think much of it until he observed me over time using my smartphone, especially the texting part. I explained that using texting provides me with an easy recallable history of what and when I chatted with someone.

One day when I showed up, Bob was ecstatic to show me his new Samsung S6 Smartphone. He asked me to help him put my number in his contact list and wanted to name me the tech guy, so I did. Bob one day after reading one advertisement about the Jitterbug Smart2 decided he wanted one and had ordered one. I helped him port his number to the new device and within two weeks he went back into a new Samsung J3 2018 because he soon discovered its battery has a longer battery.

Bob also learned that his Smartphone could connect to Bluetooth in the car. He assured me that he did not use his phone while driving. He thought it was cool, when connected with bluetooth in the car that it showed the calling number when there was an inbound call.


Ruth had a vehicle that sat in the garage for over a year and Bob decided it was time to sell it. He checked with the bank on the value and wanted me to help him sell it. I found that the car was worth several thousand more than the bank’s suggested value. He said he would give me a percentage if I wanted to help him sell it. I said “sure”. I took pictures and listed it online for $2,000 more than the bank and it sold within 10 days. The new owner flew into town, paid cash for the car and drove home the next day.

Happy with the way the car sale went, he also had a handicap van that he wanted to sell. I called the place where he purchased the van and asked if they wanted to purchase the van; they did and within several days they paid him and a car carrier picked it up. Success!

Using Technology to help improve a golfer and bowler

Several weeks ago he asked if I’d set up a new TV so he could watch YouTube videos to improve his golf and bowling. So he asked if I had time now? “yes” I said, let’s go, off we were to get a new smart tv at the local Walmart.

Sometimes it takes three tries. The first setup was the Smart TV YouTube App, not user friendly for a 94-year-old to spell for a search with a left, right, and select button. We decided that it would be best to have a 10-inch tablet using screencast. It was easy to search on the tablet for Bob.

Breakfast and Lunch visits

Last year Bob invited me to breakfast and lunch several times. We began going one to two times per month. We were at a restaurant that was known for a great breakfast chicken fried steak, and soon began hunting around town for a restaurant with the best chicken fried steak. Bob can usually make two meals out of the meal.

We also made looking for the best hamburger another hunt around town. Now it;s most breakfast at two favorite restaurants.

Bob has given me an example of what life can be when I’m older

Hanging out with Bob has shown me what life can be when I get older. Bob still drives his car both locally and out of town. He drives regularly to 80-mile destinations out of town. He has a 2-day trip planned, with a second driver joining the longer trip. His quest to improve his golf swing and bowling score are an example of always looking for a way to improve our life. He’s healthy and does his yearly health check.

I have two desires to complete as I too am getting older. One is to continually develop my writing skills. The other is to help new writers build their writer platforms and websites. That;s my version of Bob’s golf and bowling.

Bob cared for Ruth a little over three years day in and day out prior to her passing, an example of a commitment to your spouse.

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