A middle-aged man named Sanderson brings his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father to Applebee’s for their weekly lunch, where for three years they have ordered the same food and had the same conversation. Just as Sanderson despairs of finding any shred of the man who raised him, he’s saved from a brutal assault to find his father wielding a weapon procured in a moment of lucidity.
Sanderson sees his father twice a week. On Wednesday evenings, after he closes the jewelry store his parents opened long ago, he drives the three miles to Crackerjack Manor and sees Pop there, usually in the common room. In his “suite,” if Pop is having a bad day. On most Sundays, Sanderson takes him out to lunch. The facility where Pop is living out his final foggy years is actually called the Harvest Hills Special Care Unit, but to Sanderson, Crackerjack Manor seems more accurate.
Their time together isn’t so bad, and not just because Sanderson no longer has to change the old man’s bed when he pisses in it or get up in the middle of the night when Pop goes wandering around the house, calling for his wife to make him some scrambled eggs or telling Sanderson those damned Fredericks boys are out in the back yard, drinking and hollering at each other. (Dory Sanderson has been dead for fifteen years and the three Fredericks boys, no longer boys, moved away long ago.) There’s an old joke about Alzheimer’s: The good news is that you meet new people every day. Sanderson has discovered the real good news is that the script rarely changes.