During the worst years of my stepfather’s dementia, his wildly paranoid rants terrified and stung my mother.
In a typical scene, she called me in a panic one afternoon while I was at work because he was screaming at her. When I arrived at their apartment, he was sitting on the living room couch, stabbing at the air in her direction with an accusatory finger and bellowing incoherently that she’d somehow ruined his life.
I quickly turned on the TV and put on the Golf Channel. As the bucolic sight of rolling fairways and putting greens drew his attention, he gradually relaxed. I had momentarily defused the situation but couldn’t stop it from happening again and again over the next few months. Nor could I ever convince my mother to not take his misplaced fury personally.