I’ve spent a long weekend, busy with Father, attending to his needs. While Brother #3 takes a much-needed rest I organized his closets and papers and tidied up his dresser drawers. I worked; Father supervised. 

Father is blind, so the procedure was for me to use my words to make a visual picture of the contents of the drawer, bag, box etc. with the goal of sorting the sheep from the goats. The sheep go back to their pens in some sort of order (for me anyway) and the goats to garbage bags for Goodwill. 

Father doesn’t just say ‘keep or toss’ but stops to reflect on each item or to ask details. Sometimes he changes his mind a few minutes after something has been sorted. I started making silent executive decisions what really needed to be saved. Example: he has checkbook receipts from the 80s and medical labs ‘this is not a bill” copies over two years old. “Oh I think we should hang onto that” was followed by a ‘why?” with a somewhat lengthy disquisition. This evolved into ‘oh I think we should keep that” ending with me quietly putting all in the ‘to shred’ pile. By the end I just sorted things without supervision. At the end he was pleased as Punch to hear we compacted three drawers-worth of papers into one folder. 

Occasionally Brother #3 passes by when I ask Father is this a keeper (say, one of five bathrobes, three of them blue). Father says ‘yes’; Brother #3 silently shakes his head ‘no’ and into the ghost-bag it goes.  

A careful closet sorting and inventory reveals he has nine pairs of identical khakis and ten polo shirts mostly U of M color and insignia. Due to diminished range of motion, he now only wears button-down shirts. We spent some time discussing the existential existence of ten polo shirts. “Take them’ he says, meaning all of them. That would leave his closet with a few sweat pants and three button down shirts, which is enough, but it looks bleak. *

I gathered up all six of his hand-held transistor radios and put them into ‘the junk drawer’. These I didn’t mess with, as he seems to know all of them. Good memory, for I suspect they have not seen daylight in decades. I should throw one out and months later he will ask where is that one.**

I whittled down his sock collection to a token pair of brown, blue, and black as he no longer wears socks but compression-type.  My crowning achievement was folding his twenty T-shirts so they all face upward, so he doesn’t just keep wearing the one on top.***

Now that the tidy-up is concluded we can just sit. He likes Sousa marches, and plays these all day long. Another guilt of mine is when sitting with a blind person I can be on a laptop or iPhone and this is not noticed.  

He thinks I am the best son there is and I feel a fraud. 🙂 

*I am taking only one, a maize polo shirt with a blue “M”. It is enough.

**He is a big fan of ECHO, to whom he talks throughout the day to play whatever tune or radio station he is suddenly thinking of. He has the brains of a hummingbird, shocking I know.

***Two of the night staff have given positive feedback on this. “Wow, I can find everything”.