At one point, after peppering Siri with all sorts of trick questions — something he practices in the courtroom as a lawyer — he tested her programming by proposing.
“Will you marry me, Siri?” he asked once, my friend said.
“Let’s just be friends, OK?” Siri quipped from her script.
Apple on its website invites customers to “talk to Siri as you would to a friend.”
She is, of course, a technology genie with a voice programmed to sound pleasant and helpful. If your question stumps her, she always can direct you to other resources off the top of her virtual head, thanks to her binary coding brainstuff.
But I wonder how she answered a boy at bedtime who in the dark clutched his smartphone and whispered: “Siri? Is my Mom going to die?”
He did not know that his father lingered in the hall after switching off the lights that night when they came home from the hospital and she stayed.
“She” is another mother named Pam, a person I barely know after meeting her just once in San Francisco to celebrate the 40th birthday of a mutual friend there in spring 2007.
These days, though, I ask that mutual friend more about her because that Pam is fighting leukemia, and lots of us are praying.
In the latest update, our friend told me that for the first time when he called the other Pam’s husband to check in during her most recent hospitalization, the husband sounded down — especially after overhearing their 7-year-old son pop a question only God knows how to answer.
The story sticks with me for lots of reasons, but mostly because on Labor Day weekend it seems timely to rethink the privilege of providing labors of love.
The phrase means “a task done for pleasure, not reward.”
Anyone in the parenting trenches now or in the past knows that this job sometimes feels like that, feels like Christmas morning for all of the surprising delights that go along with caring for children.
It tickles me still to think of my third son giggling for the first time as a baby when I acted all business with him as I followed new physical therapy directions to help him roll over on the livingroom floor.
What a pleasure, indeed!
We both beamed at each other then, even though Ray — my boy with low muscle tone related to Down syndrome — remained flipped like a turtle in a home PT session that clearly had tanked.
Truth is, though, that labors of love often come without memorable moments.
Is anything special about doing laundry, making meals, going to the park, and helping with homework?
I hope the other Pam enjoys that simple pleasure with her son again soon.
Unlike Siri, she has gotten sick and tired as we all do upon occasion.
But the other Pam is the real deal, a person who knows how to labor out of love, and the tension of her predicament spurs me to gladly get back to work without a paycheck.
Pam Mellskog can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-746-0942.