We had a nice day yesterday despite Kate’s appearing to be a bit more confused than usual. A couple of times I was concerned that it might evolve into the kind of anxiety she experienced this past Wednesday evening. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. She got up unusually early, just before 8:00. She was walking slowly down the hall from our bedroom wearing her robe as I went to check on her. I asked if she had just gotten out of the shower. She said she was just going to take one. Then she asked, “Where should I go?” She was standing right outside the guest bathroom. I told her she could go there are to the one off our bedroom. She said, “I’d like our bathroom. Where is it?” She uses several towels, so I got a couple of extras from the guest bath and walked her to ours.
We surprised some of the regular customers at Panera. They are accustomed to our coming later. Yesterday we got there before a group from a nearby Catholic church. We had gotten there before they did. While we were there, Kate asked me to tell her where we were (both the restaurant and the city). She also asked about her father’s name as well as those of our children and grandchildren. This occurred again at lunch and at dinner. Asking these names is not unusual. It’s just that I sensed a bit of concern on her part about not remembering them. I may be overly sensitive because of her experience the other night.
What she remembers and forgets sometimes surprises me. In the car yesterday, she said, “Nineteen thirty-six” and nothing more. I guessed correctly that she wanted me to tell her the significance of that year. I said, “That was the year my parents moved to West Palm Beach.” She said, “That’s the year my parents got married.” She was absolutely right. She surprised me.
Yesterday afternoon, I asked if she would like to look at some of our old pictures. She said yes, and I picked out pictures from a trip to Spain and France that we took in 1973 when our children were 4 and 2. We were gone six weeks, and our son was still in diapers. I should add that they were cloth and Kate washed them by hand every day. When I mentioned the trip, she immediately said, “People thought we were crazy, but it was great.” That is something she has said many times when we bring up the trip. It is obviously embedded in her memory.
Then I reminded her that she and our daughter had seen Julie Andrews and her daughter at the Jeu de Paume in Paris while I was taking care of our son. She has talked about this experience many times over the years. Kate described how no one else was in the room but the two mothers with their daughters. Kate was careful not to invade their privacy but took great interest in how Andrews was explaining the art to her daughter. Kate wanted to tell Jesse that was “Mary Poppins,” but that was before she had seen the movie. Yesterday, when I re-told the story to Kate, she didn’t remember a thing about it. Three or four years ago, we had seen Andrews and her daughter at Chautauqua talking about a children’s book they had co-written. She enjoyed reliving her original experience with the two of them in Paris. Even that more recent encounter wasn’t enough to overcome the changes that Alzheimer’s brings with it. I was crushed.