"Your mother's got problems with her memory, honey, " said my dad.
That's how the conversation started. We were sitting in a sandwich shop: me, mom, dad, and Stacie. Mom had gotten up to go to the bathroom. We'd been with them for nearly three hours at that point. It was Tuesday, the day we arrived in Tucson.
"I know. That's part of the reason why I'm here," I replied. "I've been worried for a long time and this is the first time since the boys were born that I've been able to travel."
We'd already spent a couple of hours at their home; it was the first time I'd been to Tucson in 13 years. We all visited; Stacie answered the questions they asked about her family, her kids, their ages, their names. Mom and I went for a walk with their enormous Golden Retriever, Sadie. Stacie visited with dad for a bit.
Then we went to dinner at a sandwich shop. Towards the end of our meal, mom asked Stacie about her family, her kids, their ages, their names.
Then she asked the same questions again, about 10 minutes later.
Stacie, who is incredibly gracious, and has personal experience with dealing with a parent who has dementia, answered my mother's questions again. I'm thankful Stacie was with me; she's incredibly supportive and patient. It's kinda in the job description of being my friend.
Then my mom got up to go to the bathroom, and that's when my dad said what he did about her memory.
"I'm more concerned that she's able to be by herself at the house. Do you think she's safe?" I asked my dad.
"I do. We have a routine. I get up about 4:00 to be at work about 5:30, and when she gets up, generally about 8, she calls me on my cell," he said.
He continued: "I write notes for her, so she can remember things. I need to write down what your plans are while you're here so that she remembers."
"That's great that you guys have a routine. Do you need to know what we're doing each day? Or...?" my voice faded.
He said, "Well, I know you're not going to see her tomorrow, and that's fine. But what are you doing on Thursday? It's her birthday."
"I was planning on picking her up at your house sometime in the morning and going from there. Since it'll be her birthday, I think she should decide what we're going to do," I said.
He agreed and then said, "She's coming back...."
It felt a little deceptive...but it was coming from a loving place.
We decided that Stacie and I would pick her up at the house about 9 am on Thursday morning.