Preparing For and Enjoying Time with Friends

Kate got up earlier this morning but late enough that we were a little short of time before meeting a group of friends at 11:00. We squeezed in just enough time for get Kate’s muffin. As she was eating, I reminded her that we were going to a birthday celebration today. As I had expected, she hadn’t remembered. I explained that this was a group of friends who had been faculty colleagues at the middle where she had been the media specialist for about ten years. Several of them had January birthdays and used to celebrate together. It had been five years since our last time together; so I had arranged for us to do it this year.

Kate asked me to tell her who would be there. I went through each of the six other people besides ourselves. In a moment, she asked again. After that she said, “You might have to tell me again.” She then asked me how we knew these people. I reminded her of the school connection.

Then she asked me to tell her who our children are. As she did the other day, it sounded like she really knew and just wanted to practice names. I told her their names. Then I proceeded to tell her the names of the grandchildren. After that she said, “Where are we right now?” I asked if she “meant this place.” She nodded, and I said, “Panera.” When we got in the car she asked, “Where are we?” I asked if she meant the city. She did, and I told her. As we neared the home of the couple hosting the event, she asked me the names if the people we would see. I told her and also told her I didn’t think she would have to worry about knowing each person’s name, that everyone would assume she knew them. I may be imputing too much, but she looked a little apprehensive as we arrived at the house.

We were greeted by three people at the front door. From that point, everything went well. Kate’s gift for social interaction came to the rescue. I suspect that everyone was surprised at how well she seems to be doing. There was a lot of conversation before, during, and after the meal. Kate was not very talkative, but neither was I. Several of the others are big talkers, and there was a lot of reminiscing of experiences they had shared in their teaching careers.

There were only two things that Kate said that would have been signs of her Alzheimer’s. The woman hosting us had prepared a spaghetti casserole that was a recipe of Kate’s mother’s. We talked briefly about that early in the meal. Fifteen or twenty minutes after that as we were talking about foods that we liked, Kate said, “I wish you could have had my mother’s spaghetti casserole.” I had informed everyone of Kate’s diagnosis before we got together; so they didn’t say anything to make her realize that was something we talked about before.

The other thing was that Kate told them about a school at which she had taught. As she described it, I knew that she was talking about the school where each of them had taught together. I was a bit uncomfortable as she was talking because I knew that some of the things she said weren’t true. I am sure everyone realized that she was confused.

What I will take away from this gathering is that Kate handled herself very well, and we both enjoyed ourselves. I still can’t escape the sense that she is changing significantly and hoping that she will be able to function well in social situations for a good while to come.

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