Re-Grouping

Much has happened since Dad’s death and memorial service. Kate and I have both experienced a “letdown” that I consider one of the stages of grief. We haven’t felt sad. In fact, we are pleased with the way Dad left us. He had the birthday that he lived for all year, and when he died, he did so without pain. Despite the good things that we can say about his passing, we have both felt lethargic and just not up to doing things. This has led to our trying to entertain ourselves more than usual. We have been to several movies, several live performances at local theaters, and eaten out at places that are a little more special than we usually do. In addition, I booked a trip to New York. We leave this Tuesday morning and return Friday evening. I would never have considered doing this if Dad were still alive. Now that he is gone, there is no reason that we can’t, and I feel we need it.

I should say that I believe we are both at the end of our grieving. We went to Jesse’s for Thanksgiving. On the way back, Kate said she felt she was over her slump. The visit with Jesse’s family had given her a real boost. In many respects I feel the same way except that I find myself waking up at night and not going back to sleep the way I usually do. In most cases, I find my mind wandering to thoughts about Dad.

I have been especially anxious to comment on Kate and how she is doing with respect to her Alzheimer’s. I am clearly sensing that she is deteriorating further. It makes me wonder if we are nearing a time when I should let the children know. I will wait on a decision until after our visit with Kevin’s family for Christmas.

When the family was here for the Dad’s party and then two weeks later for his memorial service, she did little to help get things done. To some extent, I may have saved her by telling Larry that I didn’t want her to have to do much and welcomed his offers to help. He and other family members came through with food and preparation that helped us tremendously. Of course, Dad’s sister-in-law, as always, was a big help as well. She came a little early before the party and the memorial service just to help.

I am seeing so many signs of Kate’s condition that I can’t begin to summarize them here. Things are happening all day, each day. In general, it manifests itself in two ways. First, is a dysfunctional way of addressing all of the numerous tasks that most of us take for granted. One silly one is that she never sufficiently cleans out the yogurt container after eating her yogurt. I come behind her and rinse it further. Similarly, the spoon she uses is rinsed, but she never completely rinses it. She does things like leaving clothes on the floor or hanging them up very sloppily if she hangs them at all.

The second indicator is one that people would suspect. Her memory is deteriorating. She simply can’t remember routine things that I tell her. She repeatedly asks me what day we are going to New York or whatever else we are planning to do. I have to stay on top of all obligations, not just for me, but so that she can be prepared. Ironically, she recognizes that she has trouble getting ready to go places and has started working harder to be on time when we are going out. She even feels that she is doing well at this and feels that I don’t trust her enough.

Another symptom that is not brand new, but increasing, is a kindness toward people. She thinks many people are smart. She also comments on how good the preachers’ sermons are. This is true across the board for our senior pastor and the associates. On the way to lunch today, she said something about how good the sermon was and then said, “Of course, I can’t remember what he said.”

We don’t talk a lot about her condition. I try not to do anything to draw attention to it. I let her do the talking. She doesn’t say much, but she does tell me about things she has done or forgotten. I just give her a hug and tell her I love her. She depends more heavily on me than in the past, but she also shows a desire for more independence. She takes pleasure in letting me know when she remembers something she expected me to think she would forget.

I was quite concerned about her at Jesse’s for Thanksgiving. She spent a lot of time in the bedroom while I spent time with Jesse and Greg. My own interpretation is that she just can’t carry on a conversation for very long. She is still great at the initial small talk that is part of what we do when we haven’t seen people in a while. After a while, it is too much for her to handle. She has trouble following conversations, movies, plays, etc. The surprise is that when she told me that she thought she was coming out of her slump, I thought she was talking about being in a slump at Jesse’s. When I asked if she meant at Jesse’s, she acted offended and said, “Of course not. I was just fine at Jesse’s. That makes me think she has deteriorated to the point at which she does not recognize how her retiring behavior appears to others. It seems strange. She is simply withdrawing. This is the kind of thing that I would expect most people to notice first before recognizing the memory problem.

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