FAMILY FIXERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Everyone needs help sometimes … so where do you go to get that quick fix? How about your family?

If it isn’t something I can fix myself or Garry can manage, I usually ask my son for help. He’s not shy about asking for my assistance if he needs it. We are good at different things. Also, he is tall and I am not.

My granddaughter can sometimes be cajoled into cutting or dying my hair … and occasionally, can be urged to come out and take some pictures with me. She’s a good photographer and has a great eye.


When my brother was alive, if there was anything that had anything to do with printing he was always my first call. I do miss him very much. Too many have died too soon.

Other than these folks? The rest of my family was more or less stuck in the 19th century. They were already past middle age when I was a kid and they never made it into the computer era.

I had Uncles. Jack, Abe, Herman, Louis, Mickey, and Sam. I still have an Uncle Sam, come to think of it, but I’m sure he’s not related by blood.

I cannot imagine under what circumstances I would have called any of these uncles to help me with anything at any point in my life, not even when they were still alive. Their current lack of aliveness makes them even less likely to be helpful in a crisis than formerly. It’s hard for me to picture big, bluff Uncle Abe, the guy who used to toss me in the air to make me giggle and scream, giving me advice on Men, Marriage, Career … or how to fix a computer.


Or even asking him to read something I wrote to see if he liked it.

He wouldn’t have liked it. None of them would have liked it. Or understood it. Their brows would have furrowed and I am sure they would have found my interest in Such Matters perturbing and disturbing. At the very least.

So here’s the scenario.

Ring. Ring. Ring.


“Uncle Herman, hi. It’s Marilyn.”


“Marilyn. Dorothy’s daughter.”

“Oh, Dorothy. How is she? Is she coming to visit? I haven’t seen my little sister since … ” Long pause.

“Last month,” I offer helpfully. I’m nothing if not helpful.

“Yes,” he agrees.

“Uncle Herman, I have a problem. My laptop screen seems to have an intermittent connection to the keyboard and I can’t figure out how to fix it. Can I bring it over and have you take a look?”

“Sure Bubbala. Your Aunt just made a big batch of the jello you like so much.”

I really did love the jello Aunt Ethel made. It was never too hard or too soft — always perfect. And she used bunny rabbit-shaped molds so the jello wriggled and jiggled, as jello should.

Jello notwithstanding, I cannot imagine a positive outcome to this encounter. Although in his day, Uncle Herman was good with machines, especially sewing machines (he was a cutter and tailor, as were most of the men in my mother’s family in that generation), computers were … well … not his thing.

July 1963

He could give it a good whack, which might cure the problem or finish off the computer. A simple, fast, permanent fix. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Or they could have served me jello and we would talk about this and that, forgetting the reason for the visit because seriously, when you have a problem, do you call your family to help you out? Really?

And as a final note of caution, quick fixes are rarely good fixes. Just an observation.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

21 thoughts on “FAMILY FIXERS – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. The older generation of my family would not have been much help about tech. Most of them struggled to program the video recorder and use an ATM. They were deeply suspicious of microwave ovens and wanted nothing to do with computers. In any case, one thing that I learned fairly early in life was not to expect someone to help you just because they said they would. Sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to find someone else to do it even if you have to pay them. I know I can rely on Naomi and she can rely on me, we have some different skills so together we manage quite well. I’m sure we’d manage even better if we didn’t live 2 hours drive away from each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our 98 year old aunt lives with us. I set up my old iPad for her to talk to “googie” (her name). She looks up the weather and sometimes looks for info to help with the daily cross word puzzles. She hadn’t done much the last few months, but it’s there ready for her.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful granddaughter, Marilyn! This post is an interesting look at something that I think about now and then. For computer-related issues, I have a long-distance nephew who has been very helpful, and my grandchildren know much more about my phone that I do:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This, interestingly, was a major conversation piece at today’s “Old Farts Luncheon” – a monthly gathering of retired or soon to be retired TV News people. We usually have gossip about – yes – media developments and how great it was in olden times when were in our prime. I mentioned the “family fixer” thing because I am “it” (for worse not better) in my family. I get calls from cousins, etc. about domestic drama. I am supposed to have the answer or solution. I think maybe I look like Robert “Father Knows Best” Young to them. Sorry. Just a retired old TV News reporter who knows where bodies are buried and won’t talk. My colleagues and I shared laughter about how our lives have changed with aging. No longer hell raisers, we are just survivors – hanging on for who knows what?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Garry; I have a slightly (but importantly) different problem: My father and then my first husband were incredibly good at ‚fixing‘ stuff. Obviously not computers but ANYTHING in the house/appartment/toys & bicycles, furniture, household machines and even cars & motos….. nothing was too much too difficult, impossible….. That left 2nd husband with a tremendous dilemma; he is a leftie (his ‚right‘ hand is the left hand), intellectual, impractical and highly complex & complicated man and sometimes I sigh VERY heavily when I should have something fixed and I know there is NO CHANCE for this happening w/o outside help. So, a Father Knows Best IS a huge gift (and I know there are other benefits with my man!!!)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Kiki, sounds like I am like “Husband#2”. I am a complete bust when it comes to mechanical stuff. I know it drives Marilyn bonkers at times. If I try to fix anything, I just make things worse.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, it seems – in that case – just as well that you both are married to very competent wives and women who not only write and take pics but know how to put a nail in a wall without the wall crashing down and such….. 😉 (just kidding – but HH often says when I dispair: The world needs people like me too so that the ‘artisans’ have work and are being paid …. – not wrong, when you think about it)

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Dear Garry, you and Hero Husband are anything BUT – talents, capabilities, strengths and know-how are differently distributed in everyone, and that’s a good thing too! I fear I was very impatient with my young son because for me at his age, everything was a doodle, I flew through school and loved returning on a Monday – and it took me years to realise that HE couldn’t…. Now I’m saddled (very gratefully!!!!) with a What you call Klutz and pay for my former sins of non-understanding!!! 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Kiki, you sound like you’re patient with your spouse. That’s wonderful. As a kid who couldn’t tell the difference between screwdrivers, I really irritated my Dad,
                  I was a pretty decent student. I did well in English, Social Studies, etc. I was a flop in shop classes. I remember completing ONE shop project and was so excited.
                  During my career as a TV news reporter, I shied away from assignments involving technology. When I couldn’t dodge the assignent, I would ask the tech expert to explain the subject as if I was slow and stupid. That always produced a smile and an explanation that allowed me to sound and looks smart on the air. I forgot “the stuff” within minutes of getting off the air.

                  Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your post. How do we miss them, all those who are no less ne’er. But one thing is absolutely right, when they and if they were confronted with today’s tech, they would be out of their depth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My family has dwindled and those that remain are so far away. I am still working out how to get Tabby to the vet only own for her annual jabs when I have to take a few steps from the car to the practice


  6. My parents moved me 10,000 miles from the rest of our family when i was 11, and i’m an only child. Kinda makes you a little on the ‘self-sufficient’ side if you know what i mean?

    I used to be able to deal with issues my computer, before it became the property of Mr Gates and Messers Page and Brin who see fit to manipulate the operating system (that is now so large it is in danger of collapsing under it’s own gravity!) on-line, at any moment of their choosing.

    Then came digital smart phones and Wi-fi and any semblance of feeling like i had a clue left the building.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, Did Elvis leave with you?

      Hey, we’re burning through new episodes of “Brokenwood Mysteries”. Love the show. Waiting for Gina, the medical examiner, to nail Mick on an autopsy table. She’s got the hots for him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think a 40 something man in a catsuit leaving with an 11 year old boy might have caused some problems! 😉 But hey! – it was the 70’s, maybe not? 😉

        Have seen just a few of the Brokenwood series and liked them! It would have to be a very strong table! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.