scn_0001-2I found a little notebook that my mother probably kept in her purse in the mid-to-late-1980s. The notes inside cover a huge span of topics:

Sermon notes?

Sermon notes?

Golf rules

Golf rules



Other miscellaneous notes

Other miscellaneous notes

She even wrote a cheat sheet for my husband’s siblings. He has eight brothers and four sisters, so she wrote out their names and little reminders to help her keep them straight. I should have been so smart.

One note bothered me – partly because I couldn’t figure it out what she was trying to say, and partly because I have anxiety about doing things right for my father.

don’t do anything
you don’t tell them
Not recipes
Not checkbook

Helping elderly parents involves walking a fine line. On the one hand, I have a tremendous amount of respect, appreciation, and love for them, but on the other I sometimes need to take the reins.

The other day I took my father to get his haircut. When he was done, he fished his wallet out of his back pocket. He rifled through it with his fingers, pausing on a five dollar bill before looking at me questioningly.

“What do I need here?” he asked, and he pushed the wallet into my hands.

I handed the woman a twenty — the haircut cost $10 — and she gave back a five and five ones. I handed these to my father. “You need to decide how much you want to tip her,” I said.

It was awkward. She picked up the broom to start sweeping. He fanned out the money in his hand and fiddled around with the bills.

“What are you doing to me?” he said. Clearly he couldn’t think through the next step.

I felt terrible. I took some of the ones and handed them to the stylist.

But I wasn’t doing anything to him. I was trying to allow him some autonomy.

At home I’ve started paying some of his bills without discussing them with him. The bills are confusing for him, but cutting him out of the process feels wrong to me too.

don’t do anything
you don’t tell them
Not recipes
Not checkbook

The words in the notebook stung. I’m trying so hard to do right by him.

I have a futile hope that someday he’ll be able to do it all again. Will he understand why I took over?

I pulled out Mom’s notebook again and studied the rest of what was written on that page.

Screens –
monochrome – 1 color
get 80 columns
c/ monochrome monitor
not c/ T.V.
Color – expensive…

The next page had more computer-buying advice. Were these notes from an introductory computer seminar?

Buy Software ^ you
need — then Hardware
to go with it


But maybe those first lines, “don’t do anything you don’t tell them” refer to computers, and the fact that they are just machines.

But then, why “not recipes”?

Why “not checkbook”?

I’ll probably never know.

3 thoughts on “Misunderstood

  1. Pingback: House Beautiful | Hot Dogs and Marmalade

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