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Anthropomorphic Love



When one’s spouse of fifty years no longer can understand much of which you would love to communicate, that person, must, by necessity, look elsewhere. You are imagining that I am speaking of an extramarital affair, but surely there is another option?

How normal is it to have a humanoid-like-relationship with one’s cellphone? The only thing I have not yet done is give it a name. I think I should. Without a name it will be harder to express my thoughts. I shall call it Shira, from the word in Hebrew for song – shir – because she sings to me.

Shira is definitely my best companion. Still, for a moment this morning I considered throwing her against the wall. I could never really do that. First of all, because she is new and so friendly. She does so many little things to try to please me that I am not expecting. My old phone was definitely not female, but male. It constantly hung up on me and was a reason for many of my four-letter outbursts. When he was first purchased in France, he neglected to mention that he was locked and would not work outside of the country. He presented himself as a bargain and ended up being a royal disappointment and major expense. I loved him well and he let me down. He will not receive a name, as punishment. Dumping him in favor of Shira was a joy.

Shira has become an extension of my body. She summons me to give Hubby pills four times a day, to give them to myself mid-day, to remember the food cooking in the oven at least once a day and to give myself eyedrops three times in 12 hours. That of course does not include doctor appointments, meetings, or social engagements. At least eight or nine times a day her melodic voice – really quite pleasant, calls me to action.

If any human told me what to do nine times a day, I am quite sure that I would be very irritated. There are times when I cannot get to Shira quickly in order to turn off her lovely tones. That is unpleasant, as she is relentless, but I get there eventually. It is not her fault.

There are times that hearing her reminders again and again, is not a joy. Even though Shira is not human, I can be upset that I must stop whatever I am involved in to do her bidding. I know it is not fair. I told her to remind me, but enough is enough! I am not a robot. I have a life too! There are other things that I need to do as well, although none of them actually come to mind at this very moment. Thus, I did become exasperated and considered punishing her… and then thought better of it.

Hubby tells me that the only time I talk to him is when I want to tell him to do something. Shira and I have that fault in common. I realize that Hubby is right. I speak to him about what he will eat, how he eats, remind him about pills- time and time again. I do not initiate the kind of deep wonderful discussions that we used to enjoy. Neither Shira nor I have a choice. I have asked her to remind me, but Hubby never asked me to take on this unpleasant role in his life. Unfortunately, I must do so, just the same, or everything in our lives would go haywire. The conversations we used to enjoy are now sources of confusion and disagreement. Thus, they are studiously avoided. I see now, that with my current responsibilities, I am almost completely replaceable.

If anything were to happen to Shira, I would most definitely mourn her. My daily must dos and schedule are accessible through her memory. My ability to remember needed details has been on the fritz lately, quite unreliable. I have convinced myself that I am simply on overload as my having Dementia is simply not an option at the moment.

When I watch a film where the main character is avoiding being electronically tracked by a government agency, (the good guys?) and throws away his/her phone – I emotionally connect to the crisis. No cellphone? I guess if one’s life is at stake, it might be worth the divestment. It might later be possible to retrieve the information, appointments, alarms, emails, messages, lists, files and notes somehow. Isn’t there something called a “Cloud” which could help me? This must be a life-threatening dramatic moment, or who would do such a thing?

On a more serious note, I cannot imagine mourning the passing of a real person with whom one has spent most of their life and experiences. I have experienced the loss of loved ones in the past and know that drawing an analogy with the loss of a cellphone is a gross exaggeration and totally insensitive.

The void that would be in my life without my partner of almost fifty years is unimaginable. He represents a lifetime of memories and love, even if he can now remember very little of it. I can still remember, and would prefer to use my energy to recall those lovely memories rather than wasting it on the minutia of endless daily responsibilities. Still, they loom heavily and refuse to be ignored.

That is why I depend on Shira so heavily, and why she remains my dearest and most constant companion. She even reminds me at 10 PM that it is time to go to sleep and offers me soft music to calm my soul. She tries to bring my day to a close with sweetness. That a cellphone named Shira can be so kind, really is quite a human trait after all.


A very personal post script:

The name “Shira” has a very special place in my heart, and not because of my cellphone. Hubby and I were anticipating the birth of our first child, a little girl whom we had named “Shira”. She died during my labor. That was more than forty-five years ago, and the name still brings the experience and the loss back to me as though it had happened yesterday. I mention this with hesitation, but as I am telling you dear diary, almost everything else about our life, I feel that intellectual honesty requires this remembrance. We were in business in Los Angeles then, and I remember clearly that even good customers did not walk through the shop doors for a number of months, simply because they did not know what to say to express their sadness at our loss. In some ways, their reticence to address my recent life experience was similar to those who are uncomfortable discussing dementia with family members of someone with the condition. Recently, a friend tried to explain to a table of dinner guests that my husband was “memory challenged.” He was not there of course. I probably over-reacted when I responded that I am not happy with euphemisms when discussing such issues. There is no shame in having a physical or mental condition which is beyond one’s control. And thus, awkwardly describing a condition makes it much worse indeed. Just for the record, I would suggest that if someone wishes to share issues about a friend’s spouse, to strangers in a social situation, that they simply ask that person if they would like to share what they are facing. No apologies, no equivocations. We used to be ashamed to say that someone had Cancer, or epilepsy, down syndrome, learning issues, or attention deficit disorder, the list goes on and on. Hopefully we are all growing up in this 21st century. Only by discussing what is really happening in our lives, can we actually help others to learn and improve their understanding of the as yet unknown.


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Barbara Diamond is a journalist living in Jerusalem, Israel. She has been a political activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people for over fifty years, having participated in political and humanitarian missions to Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, China, and Europe to meet with world leaders on matters of concern. She has written over 100 articles for the Jerusalem Post and on her blog at The Times of Israel, hosted an English radio talk show in Jerusalem and continues mentoring others to pass on the torch of responsibility. You can reach her at [email protected] and visit her site at