Thanksgiving Day

We had a nice day. It was a little different from past visits. For the second day in a row, I had to wash clothes before leaving the hotel. I am sure this is one of the things that discourages many caregivers from traveling with their loved ones. During the morning, we remained at the hotel until time to get to Kevin’s for the Thanksgiving meal. Kate was especially relaxed. After being awake around 6:30, she went back to sleep and didn’t get up until I woke her around 10:30. We were here last in May. That was just before Kate’s sleeping became more erratic. Since then it has been difficult to plan things before noon or 1:00. I stayed in touch with Kevin concerning our progress in getting ready, and we arrived at his house pretty much on time.

We got off to a good start. Kate seemed very much herself and greeted our son and his family as she always has. Rachel’s parents, Lila and Jerry Livingston were also with us. I know Kate could not remember them, but she carried off the initial moments quite well. It wasn’t until we were eating that she seemed to work hard to be a part of the conversation. It’s hard for me to explain, but she didn’t seem like herself. She was like a child seeking attention. At one point, she made several impolite remarks to Lila, and even suggested that Lila might be lying. The rest of us were silent. No one knew quite what to say. The fortunate thing is that everyone is aware of Kate’s Alzheimer’s and has been around Kate long before the diagnosis. I feel sure they understood this wasn’t Kate speaking. It was the Alzheimer’s. It was similar to the way she was in a conversation at Barnes & Noble a week or two ago. I hope this doesn’t become a habit. If it does, I may have to create some small cards explaining that she has Alzheimer’s. I could slip them to people we encounter in public situations.

The experience also reminded me of a book written by Martin Schreiber, My Two Elaines. His choice for a title emphasized the personality differences between his wife before and after her Alzheimer’s. Until recently, I hadn’t experienced anything like this with Kate. As with so many things, I wonder what lies ahead.

Following lunch, we turned on the Cowboys/Redskins ball game. For twenty or thirty minutes, Kate looked through a photo book of Kevin’s family trip to several national parks in the West. Brian, Kevin’s son, explained what she was seeing. She went through the entire book and enjoyed it. After that, she withdrew from the group. She rested in her chair with her eyes closed for a long time. I doubt that she was asleep but may have dosed periodically. After a while, I went out to the car and got her iPad and brought it to her. She is usually quick to accept it and work on it for a long period of time. That wasn’t so yesterday. She simply kept it beside her.

Coincidentally, I was involved in a short Twitter exchange this week that involved the challenges of being in groups for people with dementia. I commented that Kate does best with just one other couple and even better one-on-one. Yesterday’s experience adds to all the other changes I have noticed over the past few months. It even makes me a bit more cautious about our plans to be with Jesse and her family for Christmas.

After eating some of the leftover turkey and brisket, we came back to the hotel. Kate quickly got into her puzzles on the iPad. I checked email, Twitter, and started my draft of this post. I tried to find the last of the football game on our TV but stopped on the Discovery Channel instead. We both enjoyed the featured program on animal behavior.

Kate seemed to be herself. She was tired and got to bed a little earlier than the past few nights. She is still sleeping now at 7:50. I think we will take it easy this morning. I’ll be in touch with Kevin about possibilities for lunch and the afternoon.

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