Thursday, March 31, 2011

And When I Die. . .Just Take The iPad

A few years ago after my mother died, my wife, sister and I had the somber task of cleaning out the condo in which she and Dad had lived.  There are few harder things in life than going through your parents’ stuff and having to make decisions about keeping, giving-away or tossing-out.  The giving-away and tossing-out feel a little bit like betrayals, even when it’s hard to see how anyone could really want a slightly charred, very thin oven mitt with a rooster on it.

Think, though, about all those photo albums. (My father took a million pictures.)  The stereo and all those CDs (and cassettes and albums!).  Books everywhere, including beloved cookbooks.  Radios.  Old calendars. The game closet with the beat-up versions of Life and Clue. Forty years of collected Christmas cards.

Christmas ornaments, too.  That was the saddest part for me.  Of course, we kept a few, and mailed the ones to my siblings that had their names.  But let’s face it, many of the ornaments a family hangs each year just aren’t going to make the leap to the next generation.  Especially when the next generation has already accumulated its own box of ornaments that aren’t going anywhere but in the trash someday.
Still, looking down into that dumpster at the old family ornaments scattered about was maybe the hardest part of the entire experience for me.

Now that I’ve depressed all of us, let’s leap ahead 40 years so I can make sure we're all truly miserable.  

There.  See?  It’s my children cleaning out the condo my wife and I shared.  But wait. 

Where is everything?

Yes, there’s a paper-thin wide screen monitor on the wall that is so cheap they’ll just leave it for the next tenant.  And some furniture that they’ll take or give to Goodwill.  And hopefully someone will want my carpenters tools, which include hammers and saws owned by my father and grandfathers.

But all those books?  On the iPad.  In the Cloud.

Stereo?  10,000 songs?  iPad.  Cloud.

Camera.  Albums?  20,000 photographs?  Videos?  Home movies? iPad, iPhone, Cloud.

Cookbooks and recipes.  Nope.  iPad. Cloud.

No radios.  No alarm clocks.  No watches.  

Not much in the way of paper of any kind.

The game closet with Stratego and Parcheesi and Life?  Check the iPad.

Almost anything that constitutes an idea--literary, musical, informational--will be in the Cloud.  Clean up my iPad, clean up my life.  All you’ll need is a few passwords.  

Not quite yet, of course.  But a generation or two from now?

I’m thinking the only thing that may not make it to the Cloud is yours truly.  But hopefully, as Randy Newman points out in Harps and Angels, there’s still time.

Oh, about the Christmas ornaments.  Yes, somewhere on the iPad is a dumb Christmas tree app from the one year none of our kids and their families could get home and we decided it was too much trouble to go out and buy a tree for just the two of us.

I'm thinking, just to add the slightest bit of cheer to this post, I downloaded the tree app from a beach in Hawaii.

But still, kids, in a box in the garage, you’ll have to deal with the old family Christmas ornaments.

It won't be any easier for you than it was for me, I'm guessing.  Sorry.

Won't it be nice to know, though, that some of the stuff that really matters will never be reduced to the Cloud?