Hokey and Marilynn sat side-by-side on my sofa, holding hands, a trait I dearly loved about this eighty-plus year old couple. One time I asked why his Mom named him Hokey Hokenson. He explained when he first started to date Marilynn she asked the same question. He told her his first name was actually Ragnar. Her response was: Oh. I’ll just call you Hokey then.
“So, you’re saying Lila can read my letter almost instantly?” Hokey’s slight Scandinavian accent made me smile more than the hand-holding.
“Yes. Of course it depends on when she’ll be on the computer.”
Marilynn’s free hand touched her lips, her eyes full of awe. “Amazing.”
Hokey stared at his toes. “And it’s as easy as typing a letter?”
Why Hokey was afraid of computers, I didn’t exactly know. I could tell the idea of reaching his missionary daughter in the Philippines today, not next week, was beginning to grow on him.
“It could set your minds at ease,” I reminded them of the obvious.
Hokey saw anxiety in the crystal-clear blue eyes of his adoring, ever-submissive wife.
“Alright,” he nodded.
Marilynn’s face relaxed. “Thank you, Dear,” she patted his leg before he hoisted himself off the cushion.
“I know you understand typing because I’ve seen your Christmas letter.”
Hokey looked lost and out of place in front of the computer monitor.
“Okay, you’re all set up. Just type like you would on a typewriter, but don’t worry about hitting return.”
Marilynn hovered behind him. “Oh, look at that. It just keeps going all by itself.” She points to the cursor on the screen. “It's like an electronic piece of paper. Simply marvelous.”
“Electronic paper,” Hokey smiled and continued to type.
“It will be wonderful to hear that she’s okay. The news on the television seemed very grim. They showed the incident to be too close to the city she lives in.” Marilynn wrung her hands.
Fear didn’t suit Marilynn. She didn’t wear it well at all. I knew it was painful for Hokey to see her all wrapped up in a blanket of suffocating fear. He’d do just about anything for his bride. Even learn how to send electronic mail.
“Now what do I do?” Hokey sat back and looked at the screen.
“You’re sure that’s all you want to say?” Marilynn read over his shoulder. “Yes, it looks good,” she answered her own question.
I moved the curser to the word send, and explained each step. “I click this button, and…there. It’s sent.”
“Well,” Marilynn clapped her hands together. “Marvelous.”
“Fascinating,” Hokey stared at the screen. “Where does it go now?”
“Straight to her.” I tried not to grin too big.
“Imagine that. Hmph. Interesting,” Hokey stood. “Well, Marilynn, we should be going.”
I glanced at the screen. “Wait. It looks like she answered you back.”
“Already?” Hokey scratched his head. “How can that be?”
“It’s electronic,” Marilynn patted his arm like she knew what she was talking about.
Dear Mother and Daddy,
I was shocked and amazed when I saw your words in what I thought was an email from the church. Frank and I are okay. The Lord protected us mightily. We were out of the city at a Missionary fellowship meeting when everything happened. We aren’t in harm’s way. Please continue to pray and give Pastor Rick and Mary a great big hug from me. How they convinced you to use a computer, I’ll never know.
“Do you feel better, Mother?” Hokey took Marilynn’s hand.
“Immensely,” she patted her heart. “Seeing her words so quickly…it’ almost as good as seeing her face on that screen thing.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “I’m sure that technology will be available to the average home eventually.”
“Wouldn’t that be marvelous?”
Over a decade later I remember Hokey and Marilynn fondly; our own daughter, in a dangerous foreign land, serving God…far too many miles away.
“I’m so excited,” I pat Rick’s shoulder while he sets up our new webcam. “I miss Kendra and the baby so much.”
In a matter of minutes, I sit in front of our computer and see the chubby-cheeked face of my granddaughter.
“Hi, Honey. Gramma loves you.” Spit bubbles and crinkled nose giggles exchange between us.
“She looks like Kendra…and you,” Rick leans over my shoulder.
“Well,” I pat his cheek, “my genes look better on the younger generation.”
“Remember the Hokenson’s, Mom?”
“Yes, instant relief,” I pat my heart. “Simply Marvelous.”
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