Fuels 2014

Document editing features large in my weekly endeavors. I will not leave my children 45-years of tax returns to sort through, every check I penned over a 50-year time span, and all the receipts (ALL THE RECEIPTS) / utility invoices etc saved over more than 40-years. We are in fairly good shape. I’m currently (again) going through my parent’s documents.

I brought up a paper bag of mostly household utility bills to feed into our evening fires (wet wood is a bitch). I pulled out a stack of fuel oil bills from the Island house. The top invoice dated January 2014, had a Post-it on it. This was 10 months after dad died.

On the Post-it is written: “Propane, Cooking, Hot Water, and Diesel (heating).” The fuel oil heating bill was for 100 gallons and 325ish dollars. I can imagine mom receiving this bill and not knowing what it was for, making a terse phone call, and being talked down by a very kind bookkeeping person.

Dad paid the bills. Likely beginning after their move to the Island. Mom struggled with this after he passed. Heck, dad struggled with paying the bills in the last 18-months of his life. His vision deteriorated to the point that he wrote in one inch tall print lettering. Mom took over writing the checks during that time. I offered, more than once, to help with this sort of task. Dad said they’d let me know when they needed help…

I am left trying to interpret this Post-it. Was mom taking notes on which fuel afforded each modern convenience? And why “cooking” rather than “stove/oven?” If she called the fuel oil people, did their name throw her? My folks always called fuel oil by its common name: Diesel. The word Petroleum features prominently in the company’s name that provided the fuel oil. I can hear her grumbling, “I did NOT buy $325 of petroleum!” Did she actually forget which fuel did which job? I don’t get to know, and also know it’s folly to attempt to figure out the unfigurable. It leaves me feeling sad because I know she ran into these sort of challenges increasingly, both because dad was gone and dementia is a relentless and cruel companion.

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