The Trip Home

Kate didn’t want to get up yesterday morning, but she did. We got to the airport two and a half hours before our flight’s departure. The only troublesome spot was going through security. It was a little like having two toddlers except that the TSA folks believe she can understand what is happening and what she should do. We stood in line to go through the typical scanner that you walk into, face to the right, and raise your hands above your head. I asked Kate to watch the people in front of us and do the same thing. It was a challenge for her to grasp. When there were a couple of people ahead of us, something happened to the scanner. We were shifted to go to the one you simply walk through without stopping. I thought we had it made. I walked first so that Kate could follow what I did. That was when they re-opened the other scanner and asked her to go through that one. She couldn’t follow what the man was trying to tell her. I told him she has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t follow directions well. He let her walk through behind me.

The other issue at security is taking off what is necessary and placing all the required items on the convey belt and collecting them once they have been scanned. Doing this while trying to keep and eye on Kate is a challenge. I was glad when we were through.

From then until the end of the flight’s arrival in Nashville, everything went smoothly. Kate was in a very good mood. She didn’t seem bothered by anything. She was quite relaxed. Before take off, she was working a puzzle. She stopped and asked my name. I told her. She tried repeating it to me. When she was not successful, she wanted me to repeat again. She did this several times consecutively. One time she asked me to say it slowly, and I said, “Richard.” She said, “Richard.” I said, “Lee.” She said “Lee.” I said, “Creighton.” She said, “Creighton.” A few minutes later, she pointed at me and then at herself. I thought her hand signals meant she wanted me to tell her her name and pointed to her to indicate that. She said, “No, yours.” We went through the routine of my name once again. Then Kate said, “What’s my name?” We went through the same routine with her name. She was able to get her first name but missed her maiden name and last name. I wondered if the person seated next to Kate could hear our conversation and, if so, what she was thinking.

Later in the flight, she tapped her hand on my leg. I looked over at her. She blew me a kiss. I returned it. Then I leaned over and said, “What’s my name?” She tried but couldn’t remember. We went through it a couple of times, and she got it. I said, “You got it. I love you.” She laughed and said, “But, can I remember it?” It was interesting that she continues to ask my name and hers so often without expressing any frustration or concern over her inability to remember. I am glad about that. It hurts when she experiences anxiety over not knowing who she is. The rest of the flight continued smoothly. She never stopped working on her puzzles.

She asked me quite a few times where we were going. When I told her we were going to Nashville, she asked why. I told her we were going to get our car and drive to Knoxville. I also told her we would spend the night in our own house. She was surprised and pleased each time and asked where we live. She didn’t seem to remember our having been in Lubbock at all. I continue to be amazed at how well she gets along when she remembers so little and never knows where she is or where she is going.

We were seated on the third row from the rear. I suggested that we let everyone else get off before we did. That worked well. It even allowed Kate extra time to thank the flight attendants as well as the clean-up crew that boarded after the other passengers had disembarked. Kate is now walking slower and slower. It took us a long time to get to baggage claim. Our bag had been removed and sent to customer service.

We caught the shuttle to get our car in the long-term lot. We didn’t have to wait long and were off to Knoxville. We stopped for a sandwich on the way. She surprised me when we walked in the house. I expected her to say, “I’ll follow you.” Instead, she walked through the family room ahead me. She didn’t know where she was going, however. She walked into the living room. She turned around and came out. Then she followed me to our bedroom. She was quite tired and soon went to bed. The change in time zone made it difficult for her to go to sleep, but she was happy. One of the last things she said was to ask my name, hers, and those of her mother and father.

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