He calls her more often now, asking to come for a visit. To stay for a few days and then go home. For years, she's been trying to get him--them, really--to visit for a weekend. To see their granddaughter and spend time with the girl before she's grown, or they're gone.
"Time flies," she says to them.
"We have so many things to do," they reply.
Now, time has flown but times have also changed. And instead of being too busy to drive the hour to go see her and the girl, he realizes the potential that sits 66 miles to the east. He sees her for what she is at this moment: an escape from the monotony of his life.
For if he goes to see them, he can be lifted from a life chock full of the same stories over and over, from the never ending chase against time. If we visit, he thinks, someone else can do the cooking. If we visit, he thinks, someone else can talk to my wife. If we visit, he thinks, I can hold a conversation with a lucid adult. If we visit, I don't have to acknowledge that we should be moving soon. If we visit, I can pretend that the Alzheimer's diagnosis never happened. If we visit...
She can think of any number of ways to end that sentence, all of them revolving around how she is helping him to deal with the mundane tasks that come with being a caregiver. And because it is the right thing to do, she says, "Yes, we're around. Come on over anytime."
In her own mind, though, she thinks it's a shame that it took her mom's diagnosis and his role as caregiver to make him want to come see her and the girl. To an outsider, their actions seem innocuous--simply two grandparents making their way to see their daughter and granddaughter. Sadly, she knows the real reason. She knows.