(Marge Ely)

Amanda Long

41, Falls Church, freelance writer and massage therapist

My dad, a dentist, used his appointment book to propose to his dental assistant. He pointed to the Tuesday and Wednesday after Memorial Day and said: “No patients then. We’ll be on our honeymoon.”

It’s no wonder Mom saved extra appointment books to use as a journal of her married life. From 1971, almost daily entries reveal where she went (country club pool, the grocery, Putt-Putt, Aspen), what they ate (cherry Slushees, McDonald’s, fondue), what she did (took exercise class, picked up stepkids, listened to Roberta Flack, had sex — denoted with a single X) and with whom they cooked out and cocktailed through the early ’70s (Jinky and Max, Fuzzy and Jane).

March 29, 1972: “Bill and I went to see ‘Godfather,’ Good.”

When she first gave me these, I treated them like all other artifacts from life before Dad died, scouring them for father-daughter moments such as, “Finished packing while Bill walked on beach with Mandy.”

Recently, I’ve focused on the narrator, the young country woman who became stepmom to four. On the day I was born, she wrote, “Glad it’s over, glad she’s here and glad I married Bill!”

There’s a sudden shift from entries about Christmas shopping to Dad’s nagging stomach pain. A December 1976 entry: “spot found on [Bill’s] colon. Fear.”

On Dec. 15, 1976, Mom made her last entry. “Surgery. Dr. Wolfe came to room to tell me it’s malignant.”

The rest was too hard to put into words.

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