This post is from my brother as he reflects back on his visit last month.
When I visit my parents these days, it seems we have nothing to talk about other than the usual pleasantries when I arrive such as “How are you?” “Glad to see you!” “Want a drink?” and “Want to get something to eat?” My parents have lost the ability to have normal conversations or even small talk for that matter.
The last time I visited and we went out to eat (as usual), my parents made comments about things they saw rather than talk to me. My father will look out the window and count airplanes if he can see them. My mom will comment about trees or clouds, etc. Both will see and make comments about children they see, hair colors and people who remind them of someone else. I just sit there and try not to wish I was anywhere else.
If I try to have a conversation, my parents will struggle with the topic, show no interest and go back to looking out a window, or become combative around simple facts or dates of almost any topic. My approach at times is to regale them with funny anecdotes or with memories they can sit and smile over, but that doesn’t always work. I believe their defense mechanism is to just not engage by constantly focusing on things that catch their eye, just like very young children do. Quieted.