Those Little Notes

By Doreen Mary Frick | September 12th, 2023

Stirring up memories of her mother

fountain pen and writing on parchment paper. For post on "Those Little Notes"

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back about 20 years ago, and died in 2012. Here is a story I wrote after she passed away, with a photo of one of the last notes I ever saw she’d written. One of the first things to go in that disease seems to be the ability to write.

– Doreen Mary Frick

My mail was full of fun things.
There was a bill, but it was a small one.
There was a box, and a big packet and a card.
My packet from Cousin Jean has a lot of lovely old postcards,
a photo of a sand hill crane that visited her in Florida.
I see those same cranes flying over my head here in the heartland.
My box of stuff from my sister, Diane, is a winner, too.
She must be cleaning bookshelves this month,
there are three Laura Ingalls books – and, one, get this –
is a Laura book I used to own and enjoyed and then gave to Dad.
Somehow Diane got a hold of it,
(maybe he gave it to her, maybe after he died, she found it?),
and now all these years later it has found its way back to its original owner.

A book open, also showing a picture of a crane and a handwritten note. From Doreen Mary FrickIn it, there is the dearest nothing note my mother wrote back in the day when their dryer was acting up.
Bless her heart.
Like a note from the good old days. A reminder note about the
“towels not getting dry. Must need a new belt.”

I feel like I’m 20 again and Mom is leaving me notes on my desk for the day.
The day’s itinerary. A job list. So many things on her list, oh,
Mom was a wonderful note-leaver.

Every morning when I arrived at their house, took off my coat, kissed Mom and sat down at my desk it would be covered, and I mean covered, with notes. She’d been up half the night opening the mail, and these were the things I was to take care of the following day.

Send this explanation to that person. Call this supplier. Type envelopes and add stamps on these letters she’d written people who were asking for prayer.

There were other notes from Mom:

Pay these bills. Bring her more envelopes. Type these 40 or more labels for books due donors. And always a please and a lovely thank you, always almost impossible to decipher her handwriting. She’d have the little notes all lined up in order of importance and one-by-one I’d tackle the morning’s work, a hundred interruptions, Dad needing this and that, the phone, the UPS, the negative guy delivering the plates for Dad’s okay. The accountant. The salesmen. The mailman. It was an in-and-out house and Mom stayed out of the fray. She had wash to do and meals to cook and a house to keep. And that dryer just wasn’t getting the towels dry like it should.

God love those little notes. I admit I felt like crying when I found it in the old book. The old book, which also had a note in it from me to Dad telling him I hope he enjoys it, and to Drive Safely. I suppose I’d sneaked it into his trunk when he was getting ready for yet another trip. God love that Dad. He saved everything. Even Mom’s little pink note about the dryer.

What a day, what a day. Monday, Monday, this was my day.

Doreen Mary Frick is the author of Hodgepodge Logic (1999). She has written previous posts for Boomer, including “A Neighbor Named Alice” and “My Grandmother’s Dream.”

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