We returned from dinner about thirty minutes ago and have settled into our bedroom where I am watching the evening news and Kate is working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. It is a normal evening for us except for her asking my permission to do two things that she would not usually ask, and certainly aren’t required. First, she asked if she could sit in her chair. I naturally said yes. Then she thanked me, and it was a genuine thank you. Right after that she asked if she could put on her robe. Again, I told her that would be fine, and, again, she thanked me.
Several times lately I have wondered if I am appropriately using the word “permission.” It could also be that she is simply asking because she doesn’t know what to do next. After reflecting, I believe that both interpretations may be correct. I mean that on some occasions she is asking if it is all right for her to do something. This has happened most often when she asks, “May I work in the yard?” Or “Can I use the clippers?” There are other situations in which she primarily uses hand signals to ask something. The best illustration would be pointing to her iPad and to herself to ask if she should take her iPad along with us when we are leaving the house. It also happens when she points to her cup in the car and the to the restaurant at which we have just arrived. In this case, I believe she is asking if she should (not may) take her cup in as she does at Panera or Barnes & Noble.
What strikes me most is her really asking permission. I like to think that the nature of our relationship that was established long before her Alzheimer’s would make such requests unnecessary. In addition, nothing other than the words she uses suggests that she sees me as a tyrant. On the other hand, I acknowledge that there are many things about which I correct her. Typically, that involves the clothes she wears. Although I usually let her wear whatever she wants, I frequently have to let her know that what she is wearing is not the best because of the weather, the occasion or that she has her clothes on inside out or backwards. Regardless of the reason for her asking, it saddens me to see it happen.