I had no desire for visitors after my hip replacement surgery
but Id returned home from the hospital on a Friday and my son Ken and his
wife Glenda insisted on stopping by over the weekend. They told my wife Sally,
when they called, they had something for me. So there I was Saturday afternoon,
propped up in bed, my hip and most other parts of my body still hurting,
awaiting their arrival. Youve told them this will be a short visit,
right? I said to Sally.
Yes. I said you really werent feeling that
Im not. I think I need a couple of those pain
They wont make you groggy?
They havent yet. I notice the bottle says they have
all kinds of horrible side effects, nausea, stomach pains, headaches,
dizziness, hallucinations, probably in rare instances death. So far I
havent had any. And they do work. The way I feel now I dont think I
can get through even a short visit without them.
A while later Ken and Glenda arrived. Ken was a tall
good-looking young man now in his forties. Glenda was also tall and
good-looking, a few years younger, always well-turned out. She spent a lot of
money on clothes. Typical of their generation, she and Ken liked to live well,
had a larger house than they needed and maxed out their credit cards. She gave
me a quick hug and peck on the cheek. Youre looking good, she
I knew this was a lie. Id seen myself in the mirror that
morning and I looked as if I was 120 years old, which was also the way I felt.
Ken also came over; he gave me an awkward hug. How are you doing,
Dad? he asked.
Not too bad, I lied. Thanks for coming
Ken and Glenda asked about the surgery and the hospital stay and
Sally did most of the responding, saying that the surgeon had assured her it
had gone well, that Id already started physical therapy in the hospital
and that Id be using a walker to get around. I told them hospital food
was as bad as advertised, kind of like airline food, and that the hardest thing
was getting out of the hospital; it had taken four hours to get the discharge
papers. Glenda had a package and she gave it to me. Maybe this will make
the time go faster while youre recovering, she said. I opened it
and recognized an iPad. I knew it was expensive, maybe $500; the gift was
typical of their extravagance. I did have a computer, you couldnt get by
nowadays without one, but Id resisted getting any other of the new
gadgets everyone else seemed to have. Who wanted to squint at that small
screen, Id say, and I preferred real books to digital ones. Still, it was
the thought that counted. I thanked them and put the Pad on the bedside table.
Ive already put in a lot of Apps, said Ken.
News, sports, business, weather and if you want more you can go to the
app store. Its also set up so you can get your e-mails on it.
I had a vague notion of what an App was and I had no clue as to
an app store, but I said, Thanks. Ill take a look at it later.
Im really getting tired now.
After we said our good-byes, Sally shepherded them out. I closed
my eyes and went to sleep. I really was tired.
Recovery, as Id been warned it could be, was slow. I went
around the house with the walker that had been provided to me. Sally hovered
over me to make sure I didnt somehow manage to fall over. I did the
exercises which were supposed to be vital. My right leg had become swollen and
I cut down on salt as this was said to contribute to the problem. The skin on
my feet became dry because I was spending so much time in bed and Sally rubbed
some kind of lotion on them. I had a few more visitors. Mostly, there was a lot
of tedium so eventually I looked at the Pad that Ken and Glenda had given me.
First I checked out the Apps that Ken had told me about. Some
were pretty good, like the New York Times; a financial app which showed what
the markets did that day as well as individual stocks; a few sports Apps; a
couple of music Apps and an App for free books. I went to the App Store as Ken
had directed and saw many other Apps there, a lot of them free ones. I
downloaded some of these. In those early days at home, Sally had to prepare my
breakfast and bring it to me as I sat in a chair in the living room since I
couldnt get to my usual dining room chair. This took some time so
Id stay in bed for 10 or 15 minutes before getting up and look at my Pad,
checking my e-mails, then the latest news, the stock and bond markets and the
sports results. Later in the day, Id read one of the free books Id
downloaded. I have to admit I was becoming fond of my Pad.
At the same time the Pad could be exasperating. The screen would
freeze up or Id get a totally different screen than the one I wanted. At
other times, an App I could have sworn I had would disappear. On this day I saw
an App that I didnt recognize. It was a financial App so I pressed it and
the screen showed the major market averages. The Dow Jones was up, which was
good. There was a search box for individual stocks. I put in one Id been
following and it seemed to be way up, almost twice what it was yesterday. That
was odd. I put in another stock Id been following and saw the same thing.
Then I noticed the date at the top of the screen, not todays date but the
same date six months from now. Then the screen went black. I looked for the
App; it wasnt there. I went to the App Store but saw nothing that might
be the missing App.
So what was I to do? Was I being given a glimpse into the future
by the iPad gods? If I bought the two stocks now and they did double,
wouldnt that be nice? Needless to say, this had never happened with any
stock Id bought before. But what if it had all been an illusion. Id
taken two pain pills a couple of hours before and one of the possible side
effects was hallucinating. I recalled that one night during the first week
after I came home I suddenly awoke to a bright light and there I was standing
on a tennis court in the sunshine. I took a few steps; no pain in my hip. Then
I realized I wasnt awake. I was having a dream, or was it a
hallucination? As soon as I thought this, a dark curtain descended. I was no
longer on a tennis court. I was in bed with a still painful hip.
The reader, Im sure, would like to know what I decided. If
I bought those stocks and they did double in six months Id make a lot of
money. If the App was somebodys joke or if Id imagined it I could
lose a lot of money. I went to another financial App and checked the stocks.
No, they hadnt doubled overnight; in fact, each was a little lower. I
recalled a TV show in which somebody received tomorrows newspaper, which
gave him a glimpse into the future. I believed he used this, not to make money
on the stock market, but to head off impending crimes. But of course this was a
My decision was simple. This was real life, not a TV show. I
wasnt going to double my money in six months. That kind of thing simply
didnt happen. In the next few weeks I returned my attention to recovering
from the hip surgery. I discontinued the pain medication, no more
But Id told Ken and Glenda, on one of their subsequent
visits, about the App and they were intrigued. There was something about
that iPad when I was putting in the Apps, said Ken. It was almost
as if it knew what I was putting in before I did it. Ken called me later;
they were going to take a flyer on those two stocks. I hoped they hadnt
invested too much. Wed find out in a few months. If Ken and Glenda made a
killing Id be happy for them, but Id be kicking myself. The only
thing I could do was to pay special attention to the iPad in the future.