"Georg, did you brush your teeth yet?" Maria asked, shouting from the kitchen above the clamoring dishes. He huffed in annoyance.

"Yes, Maria, I did!" Maria came around the corner, still carrying a pot of hot gravy.

"Did you remember to comb your hair?" Georg rolled his eyes and showed her the black plastic comb in his hand.

"I'm not that far gone yet, Maria!" He finished combing his now thin, white strands and began to brush his teeth again. Maria sighed and set down the pot to help him.

"You already did that, Sweetheart." Georg looked at her blankly.

"Oh… that's right, I did. I taste the mint flavoring in my mouth still. Thank you." Maria turned to take the pot back out to the kitchen.

"You better get dressed, the kids and their kids will be here in an hour!" Georg let out a loud grunt of frustration.

"I should have remembered that!" he snapped at himself as he reached for one of his flannel plaid shirts, along with a pair of blue jeans his wife had just gotten him. "I want to prove everyone wrong and live my life remembering everything that I should!" He continued to get dressed, but then his trembling hands were faced with his shoes. He was able to slip his feet into his white sneakers, but he kept fumbling the laces in his hands. "Damned Parkinson's….," he mumbled. Then he yelled from his bedroom for his wife. "Maria…. MARIA!" She came rushing back with a pair of potholders in her hands.

"Yes, Georg, what is it?" He looked to the floor, feeling rather embarrassed.

"I… I need help with my shoes." Her face softened.

"Here, allow me." She guided him through the steps, between the bunny ears and through with the knot. "There you go, Darling!" He still couldn't look her in the face.

"Thank you, Maria." She gazed at him lovingly, taking in the moments she knew she would treasure, the moments she would remember when her husband wouldn't be able to.

"You're quite welcome, Darling. Now, why don't you help me in the kitchen, hmm?" He huffed again, shrugging his shoulders.

"Very well. Let's get this dinner over with." He followed her out and she handed him a bowl of mashed potatoes to stir.

"Georg, they're your children and grandchildren. I thought you would be a little more enthusiastic today… I thought it would cheer you up after-"

"What did I tell you before? I don't want to talk about it!" he yelled, handing her back the mashed potatoes before walking away. Maria had never felt so heartbroken.

"Georg, you can't be in denial forever! Remember what your doctor said-"

"Don't get me started on that damned doctor! He doesn't know what he's talking about! I am perfectly capable of functioning on my own! I… I…." He stared at his wife blankly again. "What was I saying?" Maria embraced him into her arms, just as he used to before…..

"You were just throwing another tantrum about your doctor," she reminded him.

"I was?" he asked.

"Yes, I'm afraid so, Sweetheart." She guided him to sit down in their living room on his big armchair in front of the television. Maria turned the TV onto the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. "Shoot, what time is it?" She turned to the clock on her oven. "Oh my god, they'll be here in ten minutes and I'm covered in gravy! Georg, stay right where you are while I go change into my new clothes we bought last week… better yet, do you feel up to setting the table? The food is there just the silverware needs put out."

"I can manage, Darling!" he called back down the hall. He carefully lifted himself out of his chair and went back to the kitchen to get the silverware. Then he walked into the dining room and began to set the silverware in their proper places. "See, I can do this!" he said to himself. When he was done, he looked at the entire lunch spread, with a very large turkey right in the middle. He couldn't help but remember their first Thanksgiving in America; Gretl had shoved a pinecone in with the turkey's stuffing to commemorate their first dinner together back in Austria before the war. "See?" he said to himself again. "I remember!" He took another look at the spread on the table. "What? No pinecone?" He knew it was family tradition to have a pinecone at the table. He turned his head to face the hallway to call for Maria, but stopped himself. "No, she's got other things to worry about. I'll get it myself." He walked out the door and down the sidewalk. Five minutes later, the doorbell rang.

"Coming!" said Maria, rushing out, and still fixing her scarf. Kurt and his family were the first to arrive.

"Hi Mom! How are you?" He kissed her on the cheek.

"Oh, I'm doing fine, it's your father I'm worried about…come on it!" She ruffled her young grandson's light blonde hair. "Nice to see you, Alexander!" She hugged Kurt's wife, Mary. They all gathered in the living room. Alexander plopped himself in front of the TV.

"Grandma, where's Grandpa at? I want to show him my new mixed tape!"

"I sent him into the dining room to set up the silverware. I'll got fetch him for you, Darling." She entered the dining room, only to find that the silverware was put out correctly, but no sign of her husband. "Maybe he went to the bathroom," she thought. She knocked on the door. "Georg! Kurt and his family are here! Alexander has a new tape he wanted to show you!" No response, so she opened the door to find again, no sign of Georg. Beginning to feel worried, she checked every room on the first floor.

"Kurt, would you check upstairs for me? It's been hard for me to go up the steps now." Kurt did as instructed, but came down shaking his head. By that time, Marta and her boyfriend Ben had arrived.

"He's not upstairs, either," he said.

"What about the cell phones I got you and Dad last Christmas?" Marta asked. "Try calling him." Maria's face brightened.

"Yes! Thank you, Marta!" Maria reached for the house phone and dialed Georg's cell phone. "It's ringing…..and no answer…damned contraptions!" She hung up the phone. "I hope to God…oh no! He must have gone out by himself!" There was another knock at the door. Louisa, Friedrich, and Liesl arrived with their families at the same time.

"Just picked them up from the airport!" said Friedrich. He noticed everyone's concerned faces. "Mom, what's going on?"

"Well, it appears your father has gone out on his own without telling anyone where he was going."

"Oh shit…did you try his cell phone?" he asked.

"I called it right before you guys came… oh god, I'm so worried… I wonder if I should call the police… you know, with his Alzheimer's…"

"That's probably our best bet, Mom, as much as I hate to say it," agreed Liesl. "We can't have him roaming all around New York City!"

"DON'T remind me what city we live in!" Maria sighed. "I guess the NYPD it is!" She reached for the phone, when the doorbell rang once more. Maria opened the door.

"Hey Mom, guess who I ran into on my way here? I happened to be going through Central Park, when I saw this man gathering pinecones!" She moved over to let her father through the doorway with his large bag of pinecones.

"Gretl! Georg! Oh thank God!" she cried, hugging them both.

"I hope I didn't worry you, Maria, but I wanted to prove that I could still remember." He handed her a pine cone. "To commemorate our first Thanksgiving!" Maria couldn't help but cry in her husband's arms.

"You don't have to prove anything, Sweetheart… and no matter what happens, I'll stick by you and treat you as the love of my life, which you are."

THE END