Happy belated 83rd birthday.

    Hi Mom, happy belated 83rd birthday. It's been two decades since that late night when we last held hands and you were beaming with excitement over the library books you'd checked out earlier. But you were too tired to start on them then; you said so yourself, and I could see it in your eyes. Little did I know that when we said goodnight and "I love you" to each other, they would be the final words we ever shared.


    For so many years, it felt as though this happened only yesterday. That's no longer the case, but still hardly seems like it's been this long, even with everything that has gone on since.


    I often wonder what you would be like if you were still here now, at 83. Would you still be pretty sharp and dazzle people with your intelligence or follow the path that seems to be more common in your family by developing Alzheimer's disease, or something like it? Would you be living with one of us kids or require the kind of care only a nursing home can provide? Would you finally have gray hair or just a good sprinkling of it?


    There's also the what ifs, but I'm not even going there. It's pointless to think about what might have been if things were only different, because they weren't. You always instilled in me that you can't change the past, only how it affects you. I try to follow that, although sometimes it is hard.


    So here we are, 20 whirlwind years later. Technology has just exploded and made our world so different in a few short years, you'd barely recognize it. Remember how we thought that cordless Cobra phone was just the greatest invention? That's ancient technology. They've become the standard rather than the luxury, and pretty much everyone who has a land line plugs a cordless phone into it.


    Oh, I forgot. You probably don't even know what a land line is. Well, that's what connected our phone service so you could talk to Aunt Dorothy in the cities and your friends in town. This system is still around, but now we have mobile phones as well. Mom, this mobile phone technology is really something. You can use these cell phones pretty much everywhere. Not only that, but you can send photos from them and type in messages that are rapidly exchanged between cell phone users, plus lots of other things. There's really no such thing as just a phone anymore.


    Young people really like this. Me? I can live without it.


    Remember the Betamax VCR Brad handed down to you around the early1980s? We thought is was just the bomb, until we discovered there were no Beta movies to be had at the sparse choice of video rental outlets in Crookston at the time. At least we could record our favorite programs like "St. Elsewhere" and "L.A. Law." The VHS recorder he and Larry later got you for Christmas was so much nicer, with that huge talking remote and all the bells and whistles of the day. Too bad there wasn't enough time for you to figure them all out. Heck, I didn't even use half of the features once I inherited the thing.


    Guess what? VCRs are now a thing of the past. So are regular cassette tapes. Apparently, the  material just doesn't hold up in the long run, so CDs and DVDs have replaced them, which in turn are being squeezed out by digital formats. Records were the standard for many years, why can't anything last that long now?


    As far as home computers go, I don't even know where to start. We thought that Apple Brad paid a small fortune for in the 1980s was a really cool piece of equipment, with its ability to store stuff like recipes on floppy disks and hold an electronic address book. My typewriter being able to store two pages worth of text was pretty darn amazing, too, although you still preferred the good old manual that you could type well over 100 words a minute on.


    Typewriters are also more or less obsolete, and desktop computers are kind of going that way, too. In fact, whatever piece of technology you buy today will be outdated in six months and obsolete within a year.


    Sigh, things are just not made to last anymore, not like the only new television set you owned and the automatic clothes washer, both of which held up some 20 years without sinking a dime of repair funds into them. As frugal as you were, you'd be appalled at what things cost these days, especially gas. It's outrageous!


    I've come to the realization that I'm becoming more and more like you every day, which is a compliment to me. While talking to your beautiful granddaughters, both in praise and consternation, I find myself acting just as you did with me. Your mannerisms and humor have worn off on me and seem to also be creeping into the girls in different ways, especially Cyrina.


    After all these years, I still think about you every day and miss you terribly, Mom, wishing my girls could have met the wonderful woman who also had a little hand in their being here. But you can't change the past and I truly believe there's a reason for everything that's happened.


    At least I had you for 29 years.