We have a new and old tradition in our family - Tuesday night dinners. When I was a kid, Tuesday night was one of my dad's visitation nights. He'd take my sister and I out to dinner while my mother was at night school. We continued our dinners long after my mother got her degree, but finally as my sister and I became adults it was harder and harder to keep it up.
Fast forward 15 years. My father was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. He'd most likely been experiencing symptoms for years, but we just chalked it up to his natural ditziness or his habit for smoking something he probably ought not. We realized that we didn't have that many years of good times together, so we restarted our Tuesday night tradition. With the addition of my sister's husband, my husband, my husband, and my daughter, it wasn't financially feasible for us all to go out to eat. So the Tuesday night dinner party was born.
Last night my stepmother was out of town and my sister and her husband had to work, so it was just my father and my immediate family. We hosted at our house. Lemme tell you how my last night went:
With my stepmother out of town, it was iffy whether he would remember our dinner or not. So I waited until early afternoon to even invite him, and then 10 minutes before he needed to be here I called to remind him. If he had remembered to come, he would have already left. Naturally, he forgot. I told him to come on over, that dinner would be just coming out of the oven. Now, it should take no more than 20 minutes for him to get to my house, so I was a little concerned when 40 minutes later he still wasn't here. He probably just took time to get dressed before he left, I think. So I call his house and get no answer. Good, he's left.
Meanwhile, my mother-in-law calls me to get the update on my grandmother. I hadn't told you that part yet. It was about midafternoon when I got a call from my mother saying that my grandmother had fallen outside her house, and that she'd been laying on the ground calling for help for 30 minutes before a neighbor saw her. (No broken bones, by the way. We think she'll be okay.) So, all the while I'm trying to get dinner together and trying to order things so that my father will remember to show up, I'm playing phone call clearinghouse receiving updates from my mother at the emergency room and then passing that information on to all interested parties.
So I'm on the phone with my mother-in-law giving her the update on my grandmother while Tony is shuffling around all the food in the kitchen either finishing up the cooking or trying to keep it warm. And that's when my dad calls. "Hi hon," he says, "It looks like I've gotten myself lost."
So I quickly end my conversation with MIL and proceed to find out how far off track my father is and give him real-time directions all the way to my house. AAAAAAAHHHH!!!! It was at that point that my brain started to explode.
Anyway, the dinner worked out really nice. My father was on good behavior, we think because it was such a small group. Sometimes at our "dinner parties" he can be overly self-centered or thinks it's fun to get my daughter all riled up. The previous week he had said something very hurtful to me, and then had no memory of having said it. I was a bit nervous about this week, but we ended up having a lovely time together as a family.
After dinner, I went over to my grandmother's house and sat with her while my mother ran a few errrands in order to get settled in to stay with her for a few days.
So that was my Tuesday night dinner party night - stressful, but filled with feelings of kinship and the interdependence that is part and parcel with such closeknit groups.