Sandy Turner: Instructions I never knew I’d miss

The Examiner
Sandy Turner

I have a folder in my computer named instructions. While preparing to be off work for a couple days, I ran across instructions I’d made while caring for Dad. It brought back a bucket of memories.

Shaving: Sometimes Dad will remember to shave, but when he doesn’t, he’ll say he wishes he could do something about his face (whiskers bother him). Just ask him to come to the bathroom. I usually have to coax him to stand in front of the mirror (be prepared because he doesn’t recognize himself and will hold conversations with the guy in the mirror). Put shaving cream in his right hand and say “OK, here’s your razor,” and leave the bathroom. He will do the rest by himself.

The Dog: The dog food is by the basement door. Always check the dog bowls because sometimes the water bowl will be full of Diet Coke or Dad has filled the food bowl with doughnuts. Dad will let the dog out to do his business.

Daily Routine: Breakfast: He will have eaten plenty of snacks so don’t worry about feeding him breakfast. This applies to both the dog and Dad.

Lunch: Meals on Wheels will deliver lunch between 10:30 and 11:30. Sometimes he will just put the meal in the fridge so I will heat it up for him. You’ll know if he does eat it, because the Styrofoam tray it came in will be in the backyard, by the bird feeder, hanging up to dry with clothespins.

Dinner: His favorite is peanut butter and jelly or cheeseburger and fries from McDonald’s. If you do bring him a cheeseburger, buy an extra one for the dog, otherwise Dad will feed all of his to the dog. He will be hesitant to eat in front of you, so reassure him you have already eaten. Be prepared to repeat this every few minutes.

Things to do: There are empty boxes in the cabinet. They have been flattened and he doesn’t like to cut them up unless they look like they just came out of the cabinet, so I put them back together and leave them lying by the trash can. Make sure his scissors are in plain view. He believes this is a new requirement from the trash man and will cut the boxes up into 2-inch squares.

Phone Calls: I’m going to leave Dad a note saying I went to the lake for the weekend. He will still call my number. When he calls, no matter, what he says (he usually doesn’t know why he’s calling) tell him you will be there in an hour to bring him something to eat (regardless of whether it really will be an hour or you’re bringing him something to eat). He’ll say, “You’re a good man, thank you,” and hang up.

If you miss his call, go ahead and call him back, otherwise he’ll just sit there and keep dialing my number until you answer. He won’t know what he wants, and may not even remember calling, but just go ahead and say you’ll be over in a little while.

I miss the days of Dad’s instructions.

– Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at