As the shadows lengthen this afternoon I sit with my father in the yard. Since he’s been robbed of most of his memory, he has developed an adoration for trees. Each time we sit here, he takes up his cane and points to the huge pine trees that stand like obelisks, dwarfing my parents’ home. He directs the tip of the cane to the trees in the back yard, then twists in his yellow lawn chair and points over the roof top to the trees in front. “If you look all the way up,” he says, “you can see they almost touch the sky.” Wonder and reverence coat his voice.

Now he rests his head against the back of the chair, peaceful. It’s not always the case. There are times when his mind skips over the present and the past, and he insists this house, home to my parents for over forty years, isn’t where he lives. Then he is frantic and angry, determined to leave.

As the sun makes a show of dappled prints on the green of the yard, and the white of the house, I wonder what will happen. My father, unknowing of the diagnosis my mother received yesterday, may soon be forced to leave these trees, to be contained in a building with other people who are confused about the past and the present. For now, he watches for birds to come to the feeder and marvels at the millions and millions of leaves on that tree. “That one over there,” he says, “to the right, way in the back of the yard. It’s most unusual.”

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