I’ve never been particularly good at remembering calendar dates. It’s about as much as I can manage to keep track of my immediate family’s birthdays, and of course my wedding anniversary!
And so, to be honest, for much of my life, annual events like Father’s Day have rather passed me by. As I have got older though, and particularly since my mum passed away, things like Mother’s and Father’s Day have taken on more significance, and now my wife and I both look forward to discovering what small novelties our daughters have conjured each year.
Not that this helps me remember the calendar dates in question! Which is why I am so glad to have mastered the Reminders function on my Pocket and Google Home devices. As soon as I heard someone mention Father’s Day on the radio a couple of weeks ago, I picked up Pocket and set a reminder for the date itself (Sunday 20th June), and another for a week beforehand, to give me time to arrange something for my dad and give my wife a nudge to do the same for hers.
Though my capacity for remembering dates has always left a little to be desired, my ability to choose appropriate gifts has always been pretty good. I used to love browsing in shops when I could see what was on the shelves, picking presents out for friends and family, often months before their birthdays or Christmas.
These days I tend to stick to things that I know about such as books and food, but recently I have been enjoying firing questions at my Google Home to see whether the product I have suddenly thought would be perfect for someone actually exists. That’s how I discovered the gold coffee bean pendant necklace that I gave my cappuccino loving daughter for her 21st.
Generally speaking, I found that any inspired idea I’ve had has also occurred to someone else, and so by burrowing down on my searches and bookmarking pages in Google I can usually get phone numbers or email addresses so that I can investigate products further before deciding whether to buy them.
In fact, I’ve become so reliant (or addicted) to using Google Home that I was all set to share the joy and send one to my dad as a Father’s Day gift, until I learned that my brother had got in there before me. Thank goodness I had set that reminder to give myself seven days thinking time.
And that got my little grey cells going… Time is perhaps the greatest gift you can give someone, and it’s been a long time since I last spent any time with my dad, other than over the phone. In fact, I calculated what with lockdown and enforced self-isolation, it was 16 months since either of us had made the journey between Sussex and London to visit each other. This needed rectifying!
Having checked he’d be around, I asked Google to find me train times from Waterloo and to read out the numbers for the Southwest Trains booking line and Assisted Travel service. I also discovered that my Disabled Person’s Railcard had expired so Google found me the number to renew that over the phone too. And then, because I never like to turn up to anyone’s home empty handed, I Googled a local Italian deli, ran a quick check of their current stock, found their address, and used the Locations function on my Pocket to navigate my way down there to buy some of my dad’s favourite cheese.
Now with just a couple of days to go, I’ve loaded a good book onto my Pocket for the journey and am looking forward to what feels like a bit of an adventure; one that I have managed to organise independently using assistive technology. And of course, to spending some quality time in my dad’s company for the first time in ages.
I’m also fairly hopeful that at least one of my daughters noticed me checking out a backgammon set that has been adapted for blind players. So, with luck it should be a very happy Father’s Day all round!