Re: Mother screwed up her laptop, help?
Your IDE controller or Hard Disk is at fault.
Hopefully, all that's happened is that the HDD connection has somehow came loose. Take out the Hard Disk, and make sure it's seated correctly in it's caddy, then reinsert it. If you still get the error, see if you can get another Hard Disk from somewhere and replace it. Hard Disks are sensitive to shocks and it may be busted. If none of this works, it looks as though something is wrong with the IDE controller or port, and that's going to be a problem, and if that's the case, either take it somewhere to get the soldering checked (a bit of a problem with lead free solder is it's more brittle and can break soley due to the slight warping of the motherboard due to the running temperatures) or get a new motherboard for it - both options ain't cheap.
So, failing curing the problem with a new HDD, I'd just chuck it and look for another, perhaps second hand, laptop.
Delta: "What's wrong Chris?? Chris: "I miss my old Cyrix"