Cloister Commentary, Day 122: A Very Smart Phone

Advice for those who survive a spouse, partner, or parent: keep their smartphones active for awhile. Retrieving website passwords for departed loved ones is a well-known plague for families already not feeling so great, but remember: when you forget a password, what do you do? You have them send a link for creating a new password to your phone or email! Apply the same technique to your posthumous struggles–you just need to have the access to their phone.

This happened to us. My brother Brian and I beat our heads against a customer service wall for several days, trying simply to transfer ownership of an account from my dad to my mom, get a stray bill paid, and convert an autopay preference to paper billing. We didn’t have a passcode, we couldn’t answer a security question (What the hell was Dad’s favorite restaurant??? We tried umpteen thousand possibilities and still don’t know, and we’ve asked around!), having Mom present for the call wasn’t good enough, and the account owner (and stockholder) wasn’t, um, available to authorize any of the changes. Told we’d have to descend into the underworld (aka an AT&T Store in Joplin) to make any progress, I punched a couple of inanimate objects and in fuming futility sat down at the computer for some desperate password stabs. As I failed and failed, I looked at that “Forgot your password?” link, and gave birth to a Athena-like lightbulb: Dad’s phone was deactivated for calls, but still plugged into the wall! Within five minutes, I’d sent “Dad” a re-set link to his email, changed the password, replaced that dang security question, and solved the other issues. I felt like drinking to my own triumph, but it was only 10 a.m.

We did celebrate, however. I drove my mom to our old hometown of Carthage to visit with her best friends, Kay and Bruce Vaughn and the always-perfectly-named Sunny Michel. She hadn’t seen them since weeks before Dad’s death, and I felt privileged to witness their reunion. I had asked Mom how long she wanted to stay, and she’d replied, “Oh, we only need to stay an hour at most.”

We spent a deeply enjoyable three hours in conversation, than jammed Carmen McRae on the way back home. I hope I have friends like that when I grow up.

Streaming for Survivors:

Foolproof cure for the blues. This stuff will stomp ’em.

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