My dad died just over three weeks ago. He was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2008 and I am grateful he lived to see and enjoy my children and to give away my sister at her wedding. Progressively more technology was invested in him in these past five years. He moved from a cane to a walker and eventually to an electric wheelchair. Each of these helped him maintain his ability to move from place to place. To transport him in the wheelchair, my parents acquired a minivan fitted with a ramp so mom could drive him to doctor's appointments and to get a haircut. As his hands grew weaker, he used a fork and spoon with large rubber grips to eat. Dad eventually needed a CPAP to help him breathe. Near the end he had a catheter. He had a hospital bed that could raise and lower his head or legs. The controls had large buttons he could still use himself. I don't know all the medications he was taking, but there seemed to be more of them every few months.
I would like to say thank you to the engineers, researchers, doctors, and technicians that invented and provided all this technology to make my dad more comfortable and let him take part in our family life for a bit longer. You did something good and these things were a blessing to our family. I had the time to talk with him, watch my kids play with him, and hear him tell me he was proud of me. The day before he died, I got to sit with him and hold his hand while he drifted back to sleep. I could feel those hands that I once thought so big and strong and believed they could fix anything; that day, they barely gripped mine in their weakness. To those that made all this technology, please keep it up as there are many other families that suffer with someone with ALS and countless other diseases that you can help alleviate.
But one thing that my dad and our whole family can clearly see is that technology cannot really save us. It may hide the pain and slow the progression of a disease. It may make you mobile and comfortable for longer. But it cannot and will not stop death for any of us. Technology can be used for great good, but we must all face death.
It is far more important to be prepared for death and God's judgment. My dad knew this too. He believed in Christ as his savior. He had served as both deacon and elder in various churches. He made sure we were regular in worship. The church was packed, so many people came to his funeral. A few men I don't know from my parent's church introduced themselves to me and shared about the joy it was to get to know my dad in his last few years. Dad finished well.
For my part, I hope to remember these things as I "do technology," that I would design in the Good for others in the technology I make. But more importantly, I hope to point my family and those around me beyond the technology and other things that cannot save, to the God who hates our sins and provides His own Son to take the punishment for those sins that we may be forgiven and adopted. That is a far greater thing than all the technology in the world. My dad knew that and taught me the same.