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Several years ago my good friend Gladys Blogerbang and her husband Bob retired, moving to the Denver area.  I have missed them immensely.  (All names and places have been changed to protect the innocent – which in this case is me – because I didn’t do anything wrong.)  Through the years Gladys and I have corresponded, telephoned, visited back and forth and emailed one another.  We have kept in touch.

The Blogerbang family and our family overlapped:  they had older children, we had younger children and there were a few in the middle the same age.  Those in the middle were friends.  Together, Gladys, Bob, Ken and I watched them all grow; distancing themselves from us as teens, stumbling through the 60s-70s, screeching into young adulthood, and hopefully finding that which they were seeking as mature adults.  Meanwhile, as parents, we consoled one another when they crashed, and cheered when things went well.  Gladys and I should have been sisters, but close friends is almost as good.

Neither Gladys nor I have ever totally mastered our computers, but we get by with tips and help from friends and family. Call us computer “dummies” if you like, and that’s okay because that’s how Gladys got us into trouble – well, one of us got us into trouble.

Gladys lost Bob a few months ago, and because of Ken’s Alzheimer’s I didn’t feel I could leave him to fly back for the funeral.  When she called to let me know of Bob’s passing we spent a few moments on the phone.  It’s almost impossible to let someone know how your heart aches for them over the phone, and how much I’ll miss Bob   I thought about sending emails, but somehow that was so impersonal.  Rather I chose to send cards and notes to keep in touch the old-fashioned way:  U. S. Mail.

Time passed and Gladys called me from Arizona.  She was staying with her daughter for a while.  It was wonderful to hear her voice and she sounded as if she was picking up the pieces of her life.

“I have a new computer,” she announced, “with a new carrier and a new email address,” which she gave to me over the phone.  She also sent me a card with some slight variations in the email address.  I chose the one I thought to be correct, which included her full name.  The following week I began to send her notes and a few forwards just to catch up.

Days later I checked my email and there was an email from Gladys Blogerbang.  “Good,” I said aloud, “she’s home and back on line.”  “Do I know you?” the message read.  “I’ve been getting your emails and I’m not sure who you are.”  Terror struck in my heart.  My dear friend, Gladys Blogerbang didn’t know me?  What happened?  Alzheimer’s?  Instant Alzheimer’s?

I know Alzheimer’s hits different people in different ways, but the only case I can recall of instant Alzheimer’s was Miss Daisy in the touching play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy.”  A long-time retired school teacher, Daisy woke one morning to find her class papers missing.  Searching for the non-existent work, she ransacked shelves and drawers finally becoming angry and frantic. End of scene; and then in the next scene she was in a care facility.  Was this happening to my friend Gladys?

Rather than panic, I zapped off a reply.  “Are you the Gladys Blogerbang who once lived in the Bay Area of California?”  “Were you married to Bob?”  “Do you live in Denver?”  The answer arrived that evening.  “I live in Germany.  I am married to Jake, and, yes, I am Gladys Blogerbang.  How did you get my email address?”

My first thought was joyous relief that my Gladys was just fine.  In addition, wasn’t this a fun, serendipity coincidence finding two Gladys Blogerbangs, each on opposite sides of the world.  I mentioned all of this to Germany Gladys, explaining how I accidentally ended up with her email address, no doubt making some minor error, and adding a bit about myself and Denver Gladys.  Maybe too chatty; too much information.  I also wrote that I would check with Denver and see where the mistake might be.  If it couldn’t be found I suggested it was probably the fault of the carrier.  I signed off with, “Please keep me posted and nice to meet you.”

Meanwhile I tried one of the other email addresses for Denver Gladys.  Nothing came back, so I sent a few more notes.  Two days later an email arrived, but from Germany Gladys:  “I have blocked your emails, but they are still coming through.  Please call your Denver friend and get this straightened out.  I do not want to hear from you.  Do not ever email me again” Wow!  Rejection – big time.

Admittedly, I was disobedient and replied one more time to Germany Gladys telling her that it wasn’t my problem, and that I was really glad she wasn’t my friend Denver Gladys, because she, Germany Gladys, was no fun at all besides being a considerable grouch.  Not kind of me, I know, but I actually felt, and feel, a little intimidated by her terse email, almost expecting Grumpy Gladys to appear on my screen and yell at me.  Me – the innocent one.

Then the imagination took over:  Is she an agent?  A spy?  A drug dealer?  Does she think I’m dangerous, planning to steal her identity?  A hacker?  (Now that’s a good one — me – the computer dummy.) Perhaps, though, in our crazy, mixed-up world, she has a right to her paranoia.  Sad but true, Denver Gladys and I could be a threat, but we aren’t —  not to anyone.  Furthermore, I am extending to Germany Gladys my utmost apologies just as I do when I get the wrong number on the telephone.

I have written a U. S. Mail letter to Denver Gladys detailing my internet adventure with Germany Gladys, and requesting she look into the mix-up sending me a correction to her email address.  We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out, and hope it’s over.  The one thing I know for sure is I am really glad my dear friend Gladys doesn’t have instant Alzheimer’s.

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