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"I'm sorry," Charlie sobbed, "I won't ever do it again. I promise!" Chuck beckoned her to come to him. When she came, he gave her one of his great bear hugs.

"It's okay, Pumpkin," he reassured, "I'm all right." Vera wiped her hands on the bathroom towel, and patted her granddaughter's head.

"Everything worked out, this time," conceeded the tired woman, "but when you make a mistake, even a tiny everyday mistake, it could mean life or death. I can't emphasize this enough. Right now he looks fine, Charlie, but his mind is not. It's only going to get worse, and the sooner you accept it, the better off he'll be. He's going to depend on you more and more! If this family can't care for him, we'll have to get a stranger! Do you want that?" cried Vera, trying to relay the magnitude of the situation to her granddaughter.

Vera felt completely overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. She had always counted on the fact that Arnold would most likely die before she did. She felt that she could outlive her husband. But her youngest son, was another matter, entirely. She felt like grabbing Charlie by the shoulders and screaming, "Do you want someone like Jerome taking care of him?" On the other hand, no matter how she felt about Jerome, he was her son. This thought silenced her on that subject.

"I don't know how much I'm going to be able to help you, Charlie," continued Vera. "Obviously, when you begin school, we're going to have to get a different arrangement." Vera continued to think out loud as Charlie sobbed into her father's shoulder. "Maybe, I can take you with me to the nursing home," said Vera, addressing Chuck, now. "Then, Jerome could look after you while I'm with your father."

Chuck's heart sank when he heard the words, "nursing home", but he knew he was the one responsible for putting this burden on the family. Without saying a word of protest, Chuck tried hard to accept the fact that he was going to be spending time there, whether he liked it or not. Everyone would have to do things that were hard, and this was one of them.

After they had hugged each other, the trio sat down at the table to eat lunch. Chuck, his stomach still reeling, declined to eat very much. Charlie ate her lunch in silence, preferring to keep her thoughts and feelings to herself. It had been a sobering afternoon. She tried hard, for her father's sake, to be happy, but it just wouldn't come. She hadn't realized the enormousness of her responsibility. In reality, she still hadn't; keeping an eye on her father was only one of her duties; others would soon follow in rapid succession.

"Charlie, I almost forgot to ask," inquired Chuck, glad for an excuse to push his plate away, "how did your talk with Adam go?" Charlie shrugged. "What did he say?" prodded Chuck.

"I don't know," mumbled Charlie.

"Well, I'm sure he said something," said Chuck.

"I guess so," replied Charlie.

"Pumpkin, I'm trying to have a conversation with you," replied Chuck.

"Let her be," interceded Vera. "She's had a difficult afternoon, and doesn't feel like talking right now. It's best to let her sort it out on her own." Vera stood up to clear the dishes. To Vera's surprise, Charlie suddenly jumped to her feet.

"I'll do that," Charlie offered.

"Why, thank you," replied Vera, puzzled.

"I'll make dinner tonight, so you can go be with Grandpa Arnold," offered Charlie, carefully scraping the leftover bits of food into the sink's garbage disposer.

"I think it would be best if I made the meals, dear," said Vera, politely declining her granddaughter's generous offer.

"In Montana, I made all the meals," informed Charlie. "I can do it. I know how."

"Well, that would be very helpful... if you think you could manage it," replied Vera.

"I can take care of Daddy," continued Charlie. "You have Grandpa Arnold to look after. Daddy's mine." Charlie's use of "Daddy's mine" was extremely possessive. She purposed in her heart to be the one he depended on-- not someone else. He was HER father, not theirs. The lesson Charlie learned that afternoon would never leave her, as long as she lived.

"You won't be in this all by yourself, Pumpkin," said Vera, understandingly. "I just don't know if I can do it all over again, at my age. I had hoped that the family's Alzheimer's would end with Arnold."
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