I read this last week and it struck chords in me. Though I can’t relate to the specificity of Derek Martin’s words, I can see my experience as a son and son-in-law in the shadows of this poignant reflection.
My father is a list maker.
As such, I was raised in a household of lists and apprenticed in the practice of this venerable organizational tool.
I am my father’s son and grew up secure in the belief that any item affecting my life, from the mundane to the grand, could be safely and effectively contained within a list.
It was no surprise then when Dad’s approach to retirement planning followed this well-established practice:
When to vacate the high-maintenance lake house.
Where to move next.
What to take and what to discard.
From the number of moving boxes needed, to powers of attorney and medical directives, all found their place on The List. And with that list, all was right in the world.
Until my father developed dementia.
The initial shock of Dad’s rapid decline was followed immediately by the action you would expect from our family: Consult The List. Surely there would be one for this situation.
Maybe not dementia in particular but certainly for an occurrence of similar nature and magnitude. And there was.
Good news, right? Problem solved.
But not so fast. For the first time in our family’s existence, The List failed us. In two ways.
The first failure was not that The List wasn’t complete or inclusive enough. It was, scrupulously so.
It was something else entirely and that was this:
There was a completely new and foreign world lurking beneath the lines on those neatly ruled pages, a world into which we were plunged when we actually carried out the listed items.