Kate and I have a lot of good days. Yesterday was one of them. Often they are good because of things we have done together, things like attending musical or theatrical performances or spending time with friends or family. Yesterday, we didn’t do anything special; we just did our usual things.
Kate started the day in a very good humor. When she came into the kitchen she showed no sign of being tired. She was just ready for a nice day. She was wearing a very nice jacket that didn’t match her everyday clothes. I started to suggest that she wear another sweater or jacket, but I decided against it.
As we drove to Panera, she teased me about something. Sometimes it doesn’t sound like teasing. In this case, it was just very natural playfulness. While at Panera, she brought up the names of two people whose names she often forgets. One is my brother, Larry. The other is our good friend, Tom Robinson. She asked me the names of their wives, and said, “I don’t know why I can never remember them?” I hear this periodically. That is one of the reasons I believe she no longer connects her symptoms with her Alzheimers, and I see no reason to point it out.
I had arranged for the sitter to come an hour earlier so that I could attend a United Way lunch meeting. We didn’t get to Panera until thirty minutes before the sitter was to arrive at home. I called and asked that she meet us at Panera. It wasn’t until about ten minutes before the sitter arrived that I told Kate I was going to be leaving. I explained that the sitter was coming to be with her. She took that very naturally without any appearance of disappointment or dissatisfaction. Of course, that made me feel good about leaving. When the sitter walked up to our table, Kate greeted her warmly. I left them to decide how long they stayed and what they would do after that.
When I arrived back home, Kate was resting on the sofa while the sitter was watching television. I chatted with the two of them for a few minutes. When the sitter got up to leave, I thanked her. Kate thanked her as well.
I asked Kate if she would like to go to Barnes & Nobel. I knew she would say yes. She didn’t disappoint me. As we prepared to leave, I saw that she was wearing a pair of brown shoes and carrying the black shoes she had been wearing. I asked if she were going to wear the black ones. She asked what I thought. I told her I thought the black would look better. She accepted that without any hint that she resented my telling her. She changed, and we left. We stopped by the bank for me to make a deposit. I left Kate in the car. The people in line ahead of me had some special situations that required a good bit of time. I apologized to Kate for taking so long. She said it didn’t seem that long.
After leaving Barnes & Noble, we went to Chalupas for dinner. We’ve had a good bit of rain yesterday, and I wondered if it might rain again today. I tried to check the weather report on my phone, but it took too long for the app to open. I decided to check Facebook just to see if it might have been a problem with the cellular connection. When I did, I saw that one of Kate’s cousins had posted something about an arithmetic book that their second grade teacher had written and is now available on Amazon. Before I could read the name of the teacher, Kate said it. Her eyes brightened and she said she wanted to get the book. I told her we would. Then she started talking about her teacher and that she had remembered the teacher’s taking an interest in her. She has been losing many of her long-term memories, so I enjoyed seeing this memory come back to her and that she felt so good.
Just before we left Chalupas, she pointed to her glass and asked, “Ours or theirs?” I told her the glasses belonged to the restaurant. On two or three other occasions she has started to leave with one. The first time the owner followed us outside and diplomatically asked if she would like a cup to take away cup. The other time or two I caught her before we got out the door.
In the car on the way home she started talking about our marriage and how many things we shared in common. Then she said she was tired and thought she would crash when she got home. She asked if that would be all right. I told her that would be fine, that she could do whatever she liked. She could just relax. She said, “That’s what I like about you. You are so understanding.” And she wasn’t being sarcastic. (I realize that when I report things like this, it can seem very self-serving. My intent is to convey her own perceptions and that she is still able to respond to the way she is treated. When she says these things, to me it is like saying, “I’m still here. Please don’t forget that.”
After we got home, she walked through the family room. Just before she going through the door to the back of the house where the bedrooms are located, she asked, “Which way do I go?” I walked toward her. Before I could answer, she said, “I usually go this way.” She was pointing to our bedroom. I said, “That’s it.”
A few minutes later she went to her room, got her robe and asked (using hand signals) if she should put it on. I told her she could. She took her nightly meds that I had put on her bedside table. Then she asked again in hand signals if she should put on her robe. Again, I told her that would be fine. In another minute, she called to me for help. I noticed that she was struggling with her robe. She asked if she had it inside out. As I went over to help, she said she had figured it out. It turns out that she had put her right arm in the left sleeve of the robe. She worked on her iPad for 10-15 minutes, and then called it a night.
We hadn’t done anything special, but it was a good day for both of us. She was in a good humor every minute of the day. I hope my account of our communication properly conveys the change that has been in process over a long period of time. She seems to be looking to me more as a partner in her journey. She displays an element of trust that reinforces my efforts as her caregiver. I know that not all caregivers are as fortunate. So as I’ve said before, if Kate’s had a good day, it’s been a good day for me. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.