Afterwards, we had a long discussion that made me all the more aware of how deeply they’ve all suffered all these years as a result of Dad’s amnesia. Justin is convinced that Dad is fading fast, and that he realizes everyone is catching on to whatever it is that he is hiding. When the scene with my mother came, he couldn’t believe how obvious it all was. Why didn’t we figure it out earlier? This scene also really struck Loretta, who seemed to suddenly wish she had spoken to Mom about it all back then.
More tales of Dad’s funny business with money, of how he apparently was cashing enormous checks for his consulting services before his amnesia began – money that Loretta never saw and found out about only when trying to straighten out the family finances after Dad became incapacitated. She and Lora both think Dad was hiding something on the floppy disks he kept wanting back, but which appear to have vanished into thin air. Another mystery: Why did he insist on having the disks if he could no longer remember how to operate a computer? When I was in his house in Oregon a few years ago, I saw the old computer on his desk, but didn’t snoop around for the floppies. It all reminded me of the secret bank accounts Mom told me Dad had. Are he and Tracy living off her trust fund or off money he stashed away before his amnesia began? The mystery thickens …
For the first time, Justin talked about how he felt during our encounter with Dad in Oregon. He called it a turning point where he felt like he couldn’t attack Dad because he was already a defeated man who had suffered enough. Justin’s emotional torture turned into more of an intellectual curiosity about Dad’s possible motives for wanting to forget. He joined Lora and me in becoming the family detectives.
I was happy and relieved to hear Justin talk about how the film has helped him overcome a lot of the emotional turmoil he has been suffering over the past nineteen years. But the scars of it all keep showing at every turn. He’s clearly not where he wants to be in life, at least not yet, and is still haunted by ghosts of the past.
Justin was so excited by the film that he invited some of his friends over to watch it the next day. He wanted to show them all what’s been torturing him all these years. If catharsis can take on the form of a human face, then it did at that very moment. Justin’s sufferings took on a concrete form – that of the film – which he could share with his friends as though trying to prove that it all really happened.
At some point Justin reminded me of how close I was to cracking up while making the film. I showed him the deleted scene of the two of us in the desert, where he warns me that I’m going to lose it if I keep searching for answers. It was on our way back to California after visiting Dad, and I was really at wit’s end. Throughout the editing process, I had Justin’s words of warning in my ear, but Matt and I simply couldn’t find a way to fit the scene into the film.
Just when I thought Justin might be over the worst, he started to slip again that very same night. Is it the drugs or the mental illness which won’t leave my family alone?
Once again, I left town feeling a bit dazed and confused. Watching the film seemed to confirm for Loretta and Lora, and possibly for Justin, that Dad is indeed faking his amnesia – a reality I still don’t want to believe. But they lived through it day in and day out for years, and the stories that flowed out of them after watching the film sounded very convincing. When is this all going to end?