Memphis: Alone Time

This morning Kate and I were awake at 7:15. I brought her some orange juice and a breakfast bar around 7:45 and told her the family was just now coming to the kitchen. She thought I was asking her to come on downstairs and asked, “I’ll be able to see them later, won’t I?” I told her yes. She remained in bed using her laptop. She remained there until close to 11:00. She came downstairs and started editing photos on her laptop. Sometime around noon, she went back upstairs. I just checked in on her and found that she was resting in bed.

It is interesting how much she enjoys being with everyone (I think), but how often she removes herself to rest. I am not sure whether this occurs because she is simply tired or because she isn’t interacting with everyone and gets bored or feels left out. For the most part, each person has been on his/her own today. Jesse has been busy the entire day preparing food for our Thanksgiving dinner. I have remained in the kitchen most of that time working on my iPad and talking with Jesse and Greg. Ron has been playing games on the TV (football, basketball and hockey). Randy has been upstairs almost the entire morning. He is downstairs right now working on his computer. It could be that Kate has simply gotten tired of working on photos. It may be taxing on her. It could also be that she is having a very low-key experience with the family since no one is giving her any special attention. Of course, she hasn’t taken any time in the kitchen except when Jesse gave her a slice of banana nut bread and some fresh blueberries and raspberries.

Yesterday she was hurt when we were with the Robinsons in Nashville. We had had a good visit. Near the time to leave, she broke into the conversation and said, “Wait a minute, the three of you have done all the talking. Let me say something.” When we got in the car, she seemed depressed. We didn’t chat about it, but she offered several comments. She mentioned something that I have noticed before but did not notice yesterday. She said Angie and Tom looked at me and addressed all or most of their comments to me. She also said that everybody (even Ellen, her best friend) does this. She said, “I am not dumb.” meaning that she has things to say and contribute to our discussions as much as everyone else. I apologized to her because I had not been sensitive to that and that I would try to direct more conversation her way. I really do believe that my own personality is such that I quickly engage in conversation with other people and don’t think as much about whether or not she is being included. This is something I need to work on. I might think that the behavior of the Robinsons is a result of their knowing that Kate has Alzheimer’s, but the same pattern appears to be true with other people who have no idea of her illness. It may have something to do with the kinds of comments that she makes. Often they don’t tie into anything that we are discussing at the moment. It could also be that there is so little that she can offer to many of our conversations that she is more retiring and gets ignored. At any rate, it is a problem and one that I hope I can offset but fear that this will become a more common pattern.