Changing Seasons

There was a time we would have talked about current events. We would have traded ideas about the war in Gaza, climate change, public education. Dad and I would have imagined what the World Series would have been like if the Phillies had made it. We would have laughed together over New Yorker cartoons, snacked on cashews, and listened to Boz Scaggs.

Now we’re on a turquoise bench in a memory care hallway painted to resemble a Tuscan village. He has been to Tuscany with my mother and he loved it. I don’t know how he feels about the representation of it on these walls - what emotions it might evoke, if any.

Are you still in there, Dad?

I let my mind wander the way I used to when my kids were little and we were at a park together. I notice our immediate surroundings and allow them to guide my dialogue. 

“Well, she’s walking fast. She must be in a hurry."

“I bet the olive trees in Tuscany are beautiful.”

“You’re wearing the shirt I got you for Christmas last year. I love the color on you.” 

Are you still in there, Dad?

He fiddles with his shirt collar. I ask him if he likes the shirt too, and then wonder if he’s trying to tell me something. He is too hot, or too cold, or he wants to put on a Phillies shirt instead. 

It’s nearly lunchtime now, so we begin the slow trek down the hall to the cheerful dining area, where floor to ceiling windows allow nature to flood in, along with memories of changing seasons in my home growing up.
We are almost to the lunch table when I say, “Well, Dad. It’s looking pretty crisp out there. You know, I think winter’s just around the corner.” It’s a family joke of sorts - something he always used to say at the end of one season as he looked with hope and expectation toward the next. I hear him chuckle, and then I turn to see him look at me with a twinkle in his eye. “It is,” he says.

He is still in there.

By: Leigh-Anne Lees, VPAS Community Relations Director

November is National Family Caregivers Month. If you’re caring for an older adult loved one, visit for support, or call 540.615.5341. To find dementia awareness programs, visit