Kevin’s Visit

Last Friday night Kevin arrived for a long weekend visit with us. This is the third time he has come to visit us without his family. I hasten to add that nothing is wrong at his home, he has simply wanted to take advantage of the time he has with Kate. His plan is to visit twice a year. His first visit was last March. The second was in September. Assuming he sticks to this schedule we will see him here again this coming September.

The first thing to report is that it was another good visit. We went to one of our local theaters on Saturday to see Peter and the Starcatcher. We had dinner at Casa Bella beforehand. The dinner was good. The play so-so. Nonetheless, it was fun being together. Sunday we all went to Sunday school and church. In SS I showed 2 videos showing diverse ways of recognizing Holy Week. (We are in a series of lesson with the theme of diversity within Christianity.) The first video was the executive director of Jews for Jesus who was explaining the meaning and procedure for the Seder. The other talked about the Easter parade in Seville, Spain. We had a short, but good discussion. The class seemed to enjoy it.

After church, we went to lunch at Chalupes so that Kevin would be acquainted with our favorite Mexican restaurant. We were pleased that he liked the enchiladas even though they were not Tex-Mex. At 3:00 we went to the Bijou where we saw Steel Magnolias. We all enjoyed it.

There were two highlights of the weekend. The first was doing 4 video conversations with Kate. Kevin used his camera. The first two 25-minute conversations were with Kate and me. We talked a little about her family, our courtship, starting graduate school at TCU and our move to Madison. The next two were with Kevin and Kate. They talked a little more about her family but mostly focused on her work when he was a child, her retirement, and other things that included his own impression of things when he was a child. These conversations reminded me of those that are broadcast on NPR’s “Morning Edition” every Friday. They were quite natural. We were all at ease and simply talked about the subjects as we might have done if we had been sitting around in casual conversation. I am expecting these to be great oral history records and plan for us to do more in the future. I am going to investigate getting a video camera so that we can continue to do this on our own. It was also a very therapeutic thing for Kate. First of all, she got pleasure out of talking about the various aspects of her life. Second, I believe the act of talking itself was a good way of exercising her brain. She did very well. No one would have suspected she has Alzheimer’s.

The second highlight was our visit with Kevin’s piano teacher from the time he started playing (around 7 or 8) and his senior year in high school when she suggested he take from a professor of music at the UT. She has recently moved to a local retirement community with continuing care from cottages, apartments, to assisted living, skilled nursing, and dementia units. She wanted to hear Kevin play. She played some herself and got him to the piano. He has not played in a while, but we enjoyed hearing him as well.

It was a leisurely visit, but we did stay up a little later and didn’t make up for it by sleeping later than usual. Neither did Kate rest as much during the day. That changed today. She got up at 5:25 this morning to say goodbye to him. We left at 5:35. She went back to bed and didn’t get up until I got her up for lunch at 11:35. It is 3:01 pm right now. She went back to bed at 2:08.

She got along so well while Kevin was here that he didn’t notice much difference from when he last saw her in December. He had been a little concerned before getting here. He had spoken with Virginia Franklin and my brother. Both of them had told him how much she had declined since they had seen her last.

I told Kevin that Kate had had a good week before he arrived. His visit helped her sustain this pattern. Now that he is gone, I can see her taking a step back. It is as though she were on stage while Kevin was here. Now she doesn’t’ have to keep up pretenses. It’s really more than that though. We were busy while he was here. She didn’t have to rely on her iPad for entertainment. She didn’t get bored. That is different today. If only I could keep her entertained more steadily, she would be better. This is difficult with my other responsibilities. I hope I can get her to have some more video conversations. That might help.