Where's the "Dummies" book for this? part 1

I like those yellow and black Dummies books.  I think there is a Dummie book for most subjects.  At this moment, I can turn my head and see two of them here in my office:  Quicken 2010 for Dummies and Excel 2007 for Dummies.

Having those books is like having security blankets.  They are there to give comfort. And courage.  And confidence.

I recently donated my Blogging for Dummies book to our local library not because I knew it all but because I knew enough.  It was over three years old, super out of date, and the blogging sites are so user-friendly these days who needs a book?

So imagine my surprise when I commenced a new course of study and couldn't find any guidance. No class, no night school, no Dummie Book. This experiential episode is part of continuation school, the school of hard knocks.  It's called life.

About two years ago I was getting clues that maybe I should fly to South CA for a two day visit and see just how my dad and step-mom were doing.  There were undertones about his lapse of memory.  She made comments about that. Her sight was deteriorating and she now was legally blind.  He made comments about that.

My step-mom was telling me about quirky things that were going on.  Things like it was harder for him to get around because his knees were bothering him alot.  He couldn't figure out the car (Prius) GPS no matter how many times they went through the procedure to press the buttons to get directions to head home.  She said one day they were stopped at a signal and he went to turn the air conditioning down and instead turned the car off and couldn't figure out why the car wouldn't move. And he just couldn't get the cell phone to work right.

Through all this, any person on the street would be hard-pressed to even think my step-mom was legally blind.  There was just no indication of it.  It was amazing to watch her get around most everywhere, walk the dog most everywhere, and take care of the house.  No cane.  No grabbing things.  Perfectly normal. The only indicaton was when she asked for help reading a menu.

So I went for a two day visit.  I was on a reconnaissance mission.  Since my brothers are spread around different states and I'm the oldest and I'm the only girl and I live the closest it seemed logical that I should step up to the plate.

My intention was to spend some time with them, see if I could wrangle some answers to questions about their legal affairs in the guise of casual conversation, and just watch them in action.

It wasn't but a few minutes after I landed and they came to pick me up at the Orange County airport that I got my first clue about what was going on.  He was driving the Prius, she was sitting shot-gun. I tossed my bag into the trunk and settled into the back seat.  Mind you, these two people have, by my rough estimate, over 115 years of living in the OC.  And that includes making many trips to the John Wayne Airport. 

Reconnaissance work started immediately.   I watched them work their system.  It was perfection.  He was driving.  She was the co-pilot.  He could see and take directions.  She somehow could navigate but couldn't drive.

As though God was speaking to me the words came ...I was in a vehicle in which the blind was leading the confused!

I suppressed urges to say "Pull over, I'm driving!" or "Pull over, I'm taking a cab. See you at the house, maybe."

Lord, help us all.  What was I to do?  Did a Dummie book exist for this?  Would it be called The Art of Taking the Car Keys Away from Your Parents  for Dummies?  Perhaps it might be titled 10 Guilt-Free Ways of Hiding the Car Keys from a Confused Parent and Other Tricks for Preserving the Population for Dummie Adult Kids.

What I've discovered is that many of us have similar stories, but that they aren't being told.  Like the comfort of a Dummie book, there is comfort in both the funny and sad stories in which we are becoming inadvertent actors and players in various roles: adult children of parents; regression back to small children of big parents, good cop / bad cop; and on and on and on.

As I've shared a few of my experiences with friends, the stories that come forth are amazing.  I guess it means that we are writing our own Dummie books for this, customized to each situation. 

I was deeply touched by an obituary shared by a friend about her dad.  As I finished reading about this man's life I had tears.  The daughter had become absolutely essential for and dedicated to ensuring her parents had everything they needed as they stayed together the past years in ever challenging and changing living situations.  She finished her email to me with something like "I could write the Dummie book for adult kids of aging parents."  And indeed she could.  It would give us comfort, and courage, and confidence.  Just like the security blankets we had when our parents were taking care of us.

...to be continued in subsequent and most likely random postings...

Live richly,  marilyn


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