As I suggested in my previous post, I took Kate back to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? yesterday. That was the third time in the past eight days. It was, as they say, a “smashing success.” Once again, the theater was packed with an appreciative audience offering its applause when it ended.
Throughout the film, I kept looking over at Kate to see how she was responding. At various moments throughout the film, she expressed audible pleasure. I wasn’t surprised, but particularly struck, when she responded appropriately to things that were both funny and sad. I’ve said before that she generally understands what she hears, but she can’t retain it long enough for the knowledge to help her understand what follows. As the review in the NY Times notes, the producer gives its viewers a “feeling” for Rogers and his connection with children. I know that Kate understood that feeling.
On the way out, we bumped into a friend in the lobby. He commented about being a regular at this theater. When we parted, Kate smiled and said, “Well, I’m glad to know where we are.” We’ve also been regulars at this theater for many years, but I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t remember.
In the car, she said she wanted to read more about the film and Mr. Rogers. I told her we could check the Times review. She liked the idea. I read it to her shortly after we arrived at home. She listened intently. About midway through, she said, “I want to see it.” When I finished, she said, “I may want to see it twice.” I can’t fully express how much pleasure I got out of the fact that she liked both the movie and the review even if she can’t remember either right now.
This brings to mind something I have often read in a variety sources on caregiving. They suggest the importance of living in the world of the person with dementia rather than trying to get the PWD to live in our world. I think that is what Kate and I have been doing. It not only works for her; it works for me as well. Had it not been for her I would not have gone to see the movie even a second time. Even though I liked it as much as she did, I would have thought it silly to go again so soon. By living her way, I got to enjoy the movie another two times. I’m finding the same thing with the DVDs of musicals I have purchased in the past month. We’ve watched the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables twice, the last 30-40 minutes three times.
Her world is clearly different, and I am not denying the sadness I feel at her loss of her memory for names, places, and events. On the other hand, we’ve focused on music, theater, movies, and social engagement. Those are things we mutually enjoy. They continue to add to the quality of our lives, and I am grateful.