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Facebook is a breeze for my Mom. Maybe it’s time she “liked” the bourbon pages!

Many people say they join Facebook to keep up with their kids. I’m just trying to follow my Mom, who celebrates her 96th birthday Wednesday.

While many Atlantans will be handing out candy to Halloween trick-or-treaters, my family will be raising a toast to Van Spalding Schroder – if she has time to look up from responding to the congratulatory posts from her many friends on Facebook.

Van Schroder in a recent Facebook photo

When Mom was in her early 80s and complaining she couldn’t ever reach her children or grandchildren during working hours, I suggested she try emailing them rather than calling their office phones. “What’s email?” she asked.

So I proceeded to buy her a computer and teach her about email and the Internet. Email still confounds her a bit as she can’t always manage attachments and forwarding. She does pretty well surfing the internet, starting off each morning with the New York Times home page and surfing around some historical sites that mention her ancestors.

A few years ago, I thought it might be time to upgrade her to Facebook though I figured it might take some time to train her on it. I was wrong.

After all, when I first trained her on using a website browser, she hit a couple of speed bumps. Things went fine for a couple of weeks, but one day she called all frustrated and said the “Internet broke.” I was curious how that could happen and – over the phone – I carefully spelled out several .com addresses for her to type in the address line and press “enter.” Nothing appeared on her screen.

I dropped by her condo on the way home to have a look. Everything looked okay and I too was initially stumped. Finally, I noticed she was only typing in two ww’s at the beginning of the addresses where there should have been three www’s. We had a good laugh about that.

On March 8, 2009, I logged her into Facebook for the first time and posted her photo, connected her to her 1935 North Fulton High School class page and “friended” my own page. I warned her Facebook was complicated and that I would come back in a couple of days to train her. When I got home and logged onto Facebook a few hours later, I was amazed to see that she had already friended many of her grandchildren and was busy posting on their pages. Unlike many things about the Internet, Mom seems to have taken easily to the Facebook platform.

My wife Jan and I sometimes have to remind our children that “Grami” is watching what they write on Facebook. My son Thomas went to UNC-Chapel Hill and Jan’s daughter Catherine went to Duke. In case you didn’t know, the two annual basketball games between the nearby schools – they are just 15 miles apart – define the words “hate” and “rivalry.” So in the first week of March, Thomas and Catherine regularly post competitive volleys before the final game of regular season.

One such post, which opened with a popular refrain among Duke students to “Go to h-ll, Carolina!” attracted Mom’s attention quickly. “Catherine!” she posted in reply. “Is that you?” Catherine quickly deleted the offending post.

These days, with advancements in technology, I don’t always have to drive to Mom’s to check on the computer. I can log in from anywhere I have a cell phone signal and open up a window on my device and view her computer screen and walk her through a jam. She and I sometimes have had tugs of war with her cursor as I’ve tried to show her how to click and drag photos and other items and she jumps in before I can finish my demo. We will open up a document on her screen and “chat” with each other on the same page. I can always tell Mom’s words from mine as she seems to leave the CAPS LOCKED key engaged.

On this Halloween, while others are eating lots of candy, we’ll be drinking a little wine in Mom’s honor. Not the birthday girl, however. As she entered her 90s, she found wine puts her to sleep, so she sticks with her one glass of bourbon and branch water a day. She’s been a lifetime fan of Early Times bourbon. Recently I thought I would give her an upgrade and took her a big bottle of Jack Daniels. She quietly called my brother Mike the next day and asked him to bring her out a large plastic bottle of Early Times. “I can’t help it, I just like it best,” she said. “And the plastic ones are easier to lift!”

I guess it be might time for another computer lesson. Perhaps for her birthday this year, I should teach Mom how to “like” the Early Times Facebook page. Maybe they will send her a free sample!

Chris Schroder, SchroderPR.com

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