Thursday, April 18, 2013

When Ketchup Catches Up With You

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 Dementia Dinner


"You know, I'm the only one using this ketchup. Don't you guys need any?" my grandfather said, dipping a piece of pork loin in the little Pyrex dish filled with the familiar tangy red sauce.

Ketchup in the upper left

"No, the rest of us don't need any ketchup," my mother replied.


"Maybe this is why they always look at me weird at restaurants when I ask for it and then they don't have any," my grandfather sighed, his brows furrowed.

"Well, I put it out for the sausage that I made earlier," my mother explained, referring to the appetizer she put out on the table to keep my grandparents occupied while she finished cooking. "And then you guys ate it all."

My mother held her hands out to show about a foot in length. "I made this much sausage and they ate all of it," she said to Afram and me.


My grandparents' eyes got large and then they laughed.

My grandfather continued dipping other pieces of dinner in the ketchup dish - potatoes, pork, chicken.  "Maybe I'm the weird one and that's why places never have ketchup when I ask."

"Some places have ketchup.  Hamburger places always do," I offered.

He repeated this over and over that night, suddenly coming to the realization that he's the one that has been unreasonable this whole time, not these crazy restaurants.

I was shocked, never expecting either of my grandparents to ever become slightly more self-aware, versus continuing to become the opposite over time.

We tried to make him feel better.

Of course, my grandmother kept wanting to go home as usual, but I finally figured out the connection.

"What are you going to do at home?" my mother asked.  "Why don't you want to spend time with us?"

"Are we going home home tonight?" she asked. She never remembers that they're only a 15 minute drive from my parents' house.  She always thinks we're all on vacation somewhere and need to drive back a long distance if we are going "home home" versus "hotel home."

"No, we have to go pick up our luggage," my grandfather teased her, as he's done every time since she asked him once. Sometimes he tells her they have to catch a train. My grandfather loves to visit with us.

"He just needs a break from her," my mother often tells me when they're not listening.

She punched him in the arm and laughed. He jumped, smiling.  So all this time, she just worries they'll get home late since we're obviously in Reno or something.

"We have to have dessert first, then you can go home," my mother said.

After my mom served her angel-food cake, we let them go.

"Thanks for everything, everyone! Have a safe trip home!" my grandmother announced, shuffling out the door with my grandfather.

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