"What are you going to eat?" Greg asks.
He asks it on the phone, again in the car, and a third time while we order. I hesitate to answer, knowing he will imitate my order exactly, and that I will hear the regrets for the next two hours.
These are outings with Greg, who is turning 61 years old today. Greg is my father-in-law, and every time we have an outing, I come home laughing, enlightened, and a bit overwhelmed.
Today I was overwhelmed because as we were ordering our food, Greg's debit card didn't work.
"Where is my card? I have another card!" He shouted at me - at the cashier - at the other 10 people in line.
"It's okay...I have cash." I said, quickly putting the correct amount on the counter, ushering Greg to the table. Noel and Juliet were crawling away - 50 feet towards the exit by the time I caught up. Greg went back to the cashier, demanded that he had lost his card.
One slice of pizza, 2 polish dogs, and an ice cream sundae later, we made our exit from Sam's Club.
We go on these outings because Greg needs them - or rather I need them. The reason Greg needs them is a long story involving a head injury some 26 years ago. The reason I need them is because it gives me a jolt of perspective.
Greg lost his short-term memory in that accident, as well as the ability to control his emotions, or speak clearly. That said, it makes sense why he was upset about his missing credit card. He couldn't remember where the card was, or if he even had a card. He opened and re-opened his wallet so many times at lunch, all the cards spilled out onto the table. Except the missing card.
I called my mother-in-law. She confirmed that there was no other card. She confirmed it to Greg, who did not believe me. There are moments when Greg doesn't remember my name, which makes the situation all the more intriguing. It looks as if I'm trying to steal money from this sweet, old man. To the observer, I'm going through his wallet, and he is yelling at me in slurred words. I want to explain to everyone, but instead, I just smile and think, My mother-in-law is a saint. She has done this for 26 years.
After three hours, we drop off Greg and head home. And I make a vow that we will not go to Sam's Club on our next outing with Greg.