I have been journaling since December 31, 2012. It started out every single day. After all, there is nothing more exciting than each and every day as an optometrist, right? Watching real-time broadcasts of local city council budget meetings may be the only equal.

Why, you may ask, did I start journaling? It’s because I couldn’t remember what Renee and I did on New Year’s Eve 2011. Easy now… it’s not what you think. I’ll admit, there were various liquid refreshments that made me forget what I did on New Year’s Eve from ages 18 through 27, but after achieving my Doctor of Optometry degree and getting engaged to the lady I call my first wife (still Renee since 1980, but who’s counting?) I put on a white dress shirt and tie (that I borrowed from my younger brother since everything I owned was tie-dyed) and was suddenly sophisticated and in control.

I do remember one New Year’s Eve since then. Renee and I had gone to bed and missed the New York City ball drop. She was very disappointed, which has been a theme with her since marrying me, I suspect. I took control and looked up the ball drop on the internet. We cheerfully counted down: “Three, two, one… HAPPY NEW YEAR 1993!”

Unfortunately, it was actually 1997, but I tried.

Why do I bring up my journaling and New Year’s Eve experiences in the Spring of 2024? Because I wish my dad had journaled. Because even our little mundane and repetitive, “Which is better? Number one or number two?” means so much to this lovely person in our chair that moment and we need to allow ourselves to look back and remember that day… this day… this patient

Dr. Montgomery Vickers

Charting is our professional journaling, right? If you see somebody on June 3, 2021, you can glance at the chart for any important information. To me, the most important information on a patient’s chart is stuff they told me about their kid playing baseball or that mom had a fall. That’s right. I put that kind of stuff in their notes because I want them to know that I do see them as a person, not as a vision plan member.

Mostly this works out well when they come back the following year and say, “How did you remember that?” Nah. I don’t tell them.

But these notes can get you in trouble when you ask about their ski trip last year and their seven-year-old broke his leg and now they tell you every moment of the whole trip in between, “Which is better?”

But, overall, more information is always better than less, which brings us back to journaling. Wonder what Dad was thinking out there in the North Atlantic on his destroyer escort dodging torpedoes in World War II? Wonder what Mom was thinking when he came back and proposed?

Wonder what I was thinking when I bet my girlfriend on Superbowl XIV and lost so I had to propose? Hey, I spotted Renee 14 points. That’s love, y’all! Wonder what she was thinking when she said “OK?”

I don’t need a journal that far back to clearly remember that the night I announced this to my parents and grandmother was the only time, up to that age, that I ate green beans I was so nervous. And I do remember the reaction. My mom looked ill (could have been the green beans) and my grandmother muttered, “Oh Law!”

I was in optometry school the year we met, but she went out with me anyway. I was employed in my first private practice and she was making twice the money working for IBM.

After that, I don’t remember anything until December 31, 2012, the day of my first journal entry. I think there were a couple kids and grandkids along the way, according to the journal.

Doctor, journal. Leave something for your kids of true value. I doubt that old pupillometer will give them any joy and encouragement, but your words, your own smiles and worries, will be priceless.

Dr. Vickers received his optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1979 and was clinical director at Vision Associates in St. Albans, WV, for 36 years. He is now in private practice in Dallas, where he continues to practice full-scope optometry. He has no financial interests to disclose.