Can you meet us for dinner tonight? Can you meet us for dinner tonight?

We grew up with a tradition of family dinners and lively conversation. For the majority of the last two decades, I’ve lived near my parents. They are members of a local country club and they’d invite me to meet for dinner every Tuesday night. I was a regular guest until about a year ago.

By the time I could leave work and meet my parents, they had already consumed at least one cocktail each. On top of the short-term memory issues, joining them for dinner conversation started to become overwhelming, depressing and aggravating. In addition to having the same discussions over and over, I really had a hard time hearing things that I knew just weren’t true (see earlier blog: I haven’t had a cold in twenty years). I still don’t know why that drives me berserk, but I’m working on it, and they are providing me with ongoing practice. I stopped having any alcoholic beverages with them, but felt the need to have one as soon as I got home.

When my son’s school schedule and my work schedule changed, the only time that worked to meet was for Sunday breakfast. Now, even when we have a holiday meal, I schedule it early in the day when my parents are crisper mentally, and alcohol isn’t part of the menu.

This was a long-standing tradition, so my mom still calls weekly to coordinate our Tuesday dinner. At least half the time, I get invited twice, sometimes within the same half hour. So I feel twice the guilt for not clearing calendars and having to decline. Sometimes I will ask my mom if she remembers and we laugh about it. Other times, I try to make it a challenge to figure out a different way to nicely decline the invitation. Subdued.

4 thoughts on “Can you meet us for dinner tonight? Can you meet us for dinner tonight?

  1. About a year ago, when my step mother’s dementia wasn’t quite as far along, Dad would tell me that the only thing that seemed to settle Ann down at ‘sundown’ time was wine. It started with a glass or two a night, then Dad said she was drinking a bottle every evening. “Melissa, it’s getting too expensive. I even switched to the cheaper stuff, but she’s going through it so fast!” Then one day Dad switched to sparkling grape juice served in a wine glass and it worked. On my to-do list this week: help Dad find zip-up-the-back clothing for “the strong disrober”. Ann would be mortified!

  2. I too, like many working sons and daughters, join my parents for dinner when I can. I feel your pain regarding the consumption of alcohol. It is like the only daily event they are waiting for is 5:00 pm, so they can begin “happy hour”. Sometimes happy hour starts at 4 p.m. now. It has basically been this way with my parents every evening growing up. Looking back over the years, it seemed normal, but it has become very disturbing now that they can no longer handle alcohol. This is further exacerbated by the fact neither can remember nor count how many they have had.

    Now I find myself turned off by drinking sessions disguised as dinner. Neither eat very much anymore, and the booze really affects them negatively. sometimes they start arguing in public, or become unruly with the wait staff. It is downright embarrassing! I constantly address their drinking, and ask them to please stop or seek help, but mostly I am badgered by my mom for not drinking. She asks, “Why aren’t you drinking?!” “What’s the matter?” I have an iced tea or coke and then I get to watch as my parents slide into slurry speech, and the same jumbled stories over and over. It is maddening, but mostly frustrating because they have lost the ability to have a normal conversation. They both used to be so good at hosting dinners. Now it is just a mess.

    I find myself trying to constantly tell them stories to keep them entertained to keep them from talking/babbling and acting out with one another and thus getting too loud for the environment. it is enough to drive one to drink, just not with them. 🙁


  3. So true! And I’m so glad I found your blog! I guess it’s true that misery likes company… And it’s also great to have others who have similar roles as caregivers, who we can laugh with & who find our stories “relatable”!

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