Dear Jesse and Kevin,
I am so glad we were all able to be together for Brian’s graduation. I appreciate the efforts of each of you to make this a special occasion. A year ago, I would not have expected that Mom and I would have been able to make it. I am grateful that I was wrong.
That said, I am sure that both of you could see that life is different for her now. The change is even more dramatic than at the time Kevin and Taylor were here in March. We are now entering the first chapter of what is the portion of this journey that most of us think of when we hear the word Alzheimer’s. Up until now, we have been able to lead what appears to outsiders as a normal lifestyle. (It has been far from normal for us.) We have been very active and have enjoyed ourselves. Mom is now deriving less and less pleasure from things that in the past have provided her a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. As you know, this doesn’t get better.
Our travel over the past ten days has been hard on her. It has led to her being very tired and confused. I have heard others talk about the challenges of travel, but up until now, those issues have been mostly the burden on me. The burden is now shifting to her without any relief on me. Kevin, I really hated to leave the swim meet the other night, but I was really feeling for Mom. She is very sensitive to the heat. More importantly, she does not know what is going on around her. Not that it would have made any difference but, she wasn’t able to see any of the races themselves. I felt bad that I hadn’t brought her iPad to the meet. She would have been able to entertain herself in that way. Neither did I have it for her at the graduation. Speaking of which, as we left the graduation the other day, Mom said, “Tell me again why we were here for this thing.” She hadn’t realized at all that she had been to Brian’s graduation. I am equally sure that she didn’t even know that it was a graduation.
While we were there, she never completely realized that she was in Lubbock. As we approached our landing on Saturday, I said we’re coming in 25 minutes early. She asked me where we were coming into. When we landed in Knoxville last night, I said, “Well we’re here.” She said, “Where?” I told her Knoxville. She said, “Where we just left?” I told her that was Atlanta.
On the way home, we went to Chalupas for dinner. After we got home, she worked outside for about 30 minutes. This morning that was the first thing she wanted to do. Usually we go to Panera first. She was outside about an hour after which she came in and showered. Then we went to Panera and to lunch. Since our return from lunch, she has been outside. This is one thing that she will be able to continue doing for a while longer. I am thankful for that. She is having more trouble with the iPad. She keeps hitting buttons that take her out of her puzzle, mostly for offers to buy other puzzles. Then she doesn’t know what to do to get back. Though I encourage her to ask me to help her get back to her puzzles, she thinks she is bothering me. When she can no longer use her iPad, she will have lost half of what entertains her now. I hate for that day to come.
Looking ahead, I am still planning to make our trip to Chautauqua in July. That is four weeks from tomorrow. While I don’t think this year’s stay will be like those in the past, I think she will feel comfortable being on the grounds. I think I told you that we bought a bench for the amphitheater that is being reconstructed for this year’s session. Unfortunately, it looks like the benches won’t be ready. That was one of my primary motivations for going this year so that Mom could see where our bench is located. Of course, I need to keep in mind that at this point, things like this don’t mean anything to her. It’s really for me.
The next planned trip is to attend the TCU homecoming in October. I am not at all sure that will happen. It all depends on how Mom is doing. At this point, I don’t think we will make it. If that trip is not possible, that means that the trip to Lubbock for Christmas will be out as well.
As I close, I want to reiterate what you have heard me say so often before, Mom and I have been very fortunate that her decline has been so slow and without any special complications. I continue to treasure not only the memories of our whole marriage but also those since her diagnosis January 21, 2011. One of the few things she said about our trip was how proud she was of both of you and your families. To me, that alone was worth the trip. I know that even now she doesn’t remember the details of the trip or, possibly, that we even took the trip, but the feeling she has for the two of you remains. That’s another thing for which I am grateful.