Have you ever watched the movie, "Groundhog Day"? In the movie, Bill Murray plays the part of a weatherman who finds himself repeating Groundhog Day over and over again. He follows the same actions and has the same conversations. Sometimes when I am having a conversation with Dad I feel like I am caught in some sort of time warp, just like in the movie.
Today Dad called me about 'the letter'. This is a letter that his lawyer sent to his ex-wife's lawyer almost a week ago. Dad wanted to know if I had seen 'the letter':
"Yes, Dad, I've seen the letter. The lawyer sent me an email with a copy of the letter."
"But this isn't the same letter. It's missing something," Dad states as he is apparently looking at the letter.
"What is it missing, Dad?"
"There used to be a chart with some prices and I don't see that now. All I see is the letter. "
After getting on Dad's computer via screen sharing....
"OK, Dad, this is 'the letter', I say as I swirl the cursor around the letter that was already displayed on the screen.
"Yes, I see the letter. But where is the chart?"
"The chart is a separate document. If we go back to your email from the lawyer," I say, as I am showing him on his computer, "you can see the documents he sent to her lawyer. Here's the letter," I say as I circle the cursor around the .pdf file, "here's the chart." I again circle the cursor around the .pdf file for the chart.
"Oh, yes. I see. Thank you. So, the chart is a different document?"
"OK. I got it," states Dad.
"But, where is the letter?" asks Dad.
At this point I'm not quite sure what he means by 'where': Where is it physically? Where is it stored on his computer? Whether it has it been sent, and so forth. So after a few questions and some demonstration on the computer, I show him where the letter is filed in his documents and where the letter exists in his email. While we were doing this I clicked the buttons to have the letter printed at his home. I let Dad know that I have printed out the letter so he can have a paper copy. Dad turns to his printer, and happily exclaims, "Oh, yes. Here it is. How did you do that?! This is wonderful."
But then, Dad's voice sounds puzzled.
"But, where is the chart? I don't see the chart that was with the letter."
So we begin the cycle again.
This is very frustrating for me. I have learned to bite my tongue and refrain from saying something like, "I already told you that the chart is a different document!" I have learned to not to show my frustration or even anger in my voice as I direct him to the letter, explain that the chart is a separate document, and so forth. I want to maintain his dignity. He doesn't remember that he has already asked these questions. He doesn't seem to remember my answers. I figure that, through repetition, the important points might stick or through redirection I can focus Dad's attention on something that may have greater relevance to his life.