As the weather warmed up the last few weeks, Bill was excited to be working outside again. Each spring day brought him a little bit closer to fieldwork. After spending almost two hours taking apart his rotary mower, he was almost finished and ready to put the new cover on the center deck.

As with most jobs, this one required a very specific part. The serial number gave him three different bolt options and Bill had guessed option three. Everything looked the same, but the last bolt hole was off by almost half an inch. There was no denying it, Bill had purchased the wrong-sized cover.

He hopped in his truck and headed back to his house from the shop on his son’s farm. He would need the receipt to exchange the cover for the correct size.

Bill walked into the house hurriedly. He tossed his keys on the kitchen table and walked into the office. As he approached the desk, he paused for a moment and said to himself, “Why did I come here?” In the two-mile trip to his house, his mind had wandered, and he forgot what he was doing.

He stood there awkwardly for a few moments dressed in his work shoes and work clothes. He knew he needed to get something from his desk but could not remember what it was. The longer he stood there the more blank his mind became.

After a minute of silence, he finally turned and walked back out the office door. He reached for his truck keys on the kitchen table, but they were gone.

Bill searched his coat pockets along with his pants pockets. And then he searched them again. He checked the kitchen counters and looked all over the kitchen floor. He wondered how his keys disappeared so quickly.

As he opened the door to go outside, he saw the truck with the driver’s door open and the engine running.

Bill began to wonder if he was losing his mind. He was halfway back to the shop before he remembered needing the receipt to exchange the part. He turned around again and headed back to his office.

At the same time Bill was having an episode of forgetfulness, his wife, April, was on her way to the mall. Her youngest granddaughter was celebrating her birthday this week, and April knew exactly what to get her. She parked the car and hurried inside.

At the second shop April found a red dress with two small ponies and a unicorn stitched into the bottom. It was perfect, and she was excited as she thought about how much her granddaughter would enjoy it. She then stopped to purchase a birthday card before heading back to the parking lot.

As she approached the spot where the car was parked, she was shocked to find it missing. After a careful search she figured she must have parked at a different entrance. She searched two more entrances and but could not find her car.

Admitting defeat, April found a security guard and they drove around the parking lot together. On the second pass through they found it in the adjacent theater parking.

Back at home, Bill was surprised when April mentioned she had lost her car. He told her about losing his keys, leaving the truck on and idling in the driveway and forgetting about the receipt. They chuckled as they seemed to have had the same experience that morning. Although the events seemed a little humorous, they both wondered how they could forget such an important thing.

Bill and April’s experiences are far more common than most of us would want to admit. Even young people occasionally find themselves doing something without knowing why.

One painful aspect of aging is that we become forgetful. It is also painful to watch a family member struggle with memory loss. Sometimes the person knows they are forgetful and other times they have no idea. Over time, their children or spouse notice the change and begin to wonder what will happen when their loved one cannot function on their own.

Navigating through these experiences requires a plan. It should have contingencies for the near future and long-term. Planning to ignore the issue is not a good plan.

Generally, husbands and wives watch out for each other. This works if one of them is in good health. Children or other family members also share a responsibility to help the loved one. Day-to-day decisions, including financial decisions, become increasingly difficult. A genuine, trustworthy individual is needed.

A competent attorney can provide legal guidance to help you protect yourself or those you love. Even if you are a person of modest circumstances, updating the legal permission you allow others to use on your behalf may become a great benefit to you later in life.

The best time to make, review or update your plan is when you have intellectual capacity. While your children, grandchildren or others may want to help you, explaining your intentions while you have a clear mind will help ensure your desires are realized.

It is OK to chuckle when you have a “memory moment.” Do not become too discouraged. Keep looking for your lost keys.


Bob Dunaway and Associates offer estate and retirement planning. Gary Johnson can be reached at 563-927-4554 or by emailing him at plans@bobdunaway.com.