There is a letter from your dad in the mail today.

Dread fills me. I know that no good is going to come from opening up the letter. But I open it anyway.

It’s from my dad, in his distinctive writing, blaming me for something I did not do. I immediately call both of their homes and leave them a message.

I’m really mad … and really hurt.

My parents have no short-term memory, yet the one thing they remember about me today is that I betrayed them. They wrote it down, sent it with a dual signature and dropped it the mail. It explodes in me, more than on me today.

I know I will never be able to right this. I try to soothe myself by considering that my mom confabulated a story and has convinced my dad of it – but that still doesn’t make me feel better.

We keep hoping that our repeated letters, calls and meetings will seep in and they will eventually acknowledge and reorganize their lives. We don’t even seem close and already I’ve become a horrible daughter. They say it only gets harder. Incapacitated.

Dad got up at 4 a.m. and ate breakfast.

My brother calls to share with me what’s going on at home. At first my mom is very combative about any need to visit a doctor, or even just to give a blood sample.

My brother and sister are staying with my parents while I’m away. We thought this would be the perfect time to have someone help make sure they don’t eat before their blood test. While this seems like a simple task, with no short-term memory and no knowledge or sense of your limitations, my parents have no system to help them manage tasks like this but do not know it.

Our interest is to keep them safe and part of that process is to understand their physical and mental state. Step one was the visit with the psychologist. Step two is a physical. The blood work requested means they need to fast. My brother and sister are with them to ensure they don’t eat before the blood test.

This morning they were going to get the test and my parents said they were on board. However, when my brother gets up, he learns that my dad got up at 4 a.m. and ate breakfast. I am constantly considering how crafty they have become. Was there some element to this action to prevent the blood test from getting done?

We still have Monday. I wish them luck! Foiled.

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.