Not every moment of every day is special. Some are discouraging, sad, or trying. As I have noted many times, we have experienced relatively few of those. I find that we have enough uplifting moments to offset those I would like to forget. Some of those involve planned events like our regular dinners at Casa Bella for their music nights or our visits with family and friends. Many of them occur without any planning at all. They just happen without any prior expectation. That was the case yesterday.
It was a day for the sitter. This was only the second time that Valorie has been with us. She will now be our regular sitter on Mondays. I was especially eager to get Kate up a little earlier than usual. As time passed and Kate had not gotten up on her own, I began to think of a new plan for the sitter. I decided to let her sleep until 11:00. That would leave an hour for her to get showered and dressed before I left at noon. It would relieve me of the pressure of getting her up and dressed and to Panera for a sandwich before I left. I would simply let the sitter take her to lunch while I go to Rotary. Assuming it worked, it would be something we could do on a regular basis from now own.
At 11:00, I went into the bedroom and sat down on the bed next to Kate. She looked up at me and smiled. We began a fifteen-minute conversation that for me was as tender a conversation as we have ever had, and she didn’t even know my name.
RICHARD: “You look relaxed.”
KATE: “I am.”
RICHARD: “I’m glad.”
KATE: “Where am I?”
RICHARD: “You’re in your very own bed in our house in Knoxville, Tennessee.”
KATE: “We have a house?”
From this point, we went through our usual conversation, at least in the words that were spoken. She wanted to know my name, her name, and her parents’ names. If you read these posts with any regularity, you can pretty easily grasp the content of the conversation. What was different about this one was the tone. She was very relaxed and sleepy. I responded in kind. It was much more like a father talking with his young child. She was trusting me as the person with the answers to her questions. I am touched by her growing dependence.The difference between this situation and with a child is that she can’t remember. A child can or will learn. That’s not going to happen with Kate.
Our conversation ended when she said she was sleepy and wanted to rest some more. I explained that I would be leaving and that Valorie would be with her. She didn’t remember Valorie, but I told her she was here last week and that she had liked her. I also explained that Valorie would be happy to help her with her shower and clothes if she needed help. She was comfortable with that, and I left her to rest. Equally important was the fact that I was comfortable. I let go of my desire to get her up, dressed, and to lunch. I accepted that this change needed to occur. It enabled me to have an easy conversation with Kate rather than pushing her to get up when she really wanted to stay in bed.
When Valorie arrived, I explained that Kate was still sleeping and talked with her about helping her get up and to the shower and dressing. I made it clear that this was the first time anyone else had helped with these things but that I thought Kate would be cooperative. When I arrived home, they were both in the family room. I walked Valorie to the door. She said she had helped Kate with the shower (not sure exactly how much help she had to provide) and getting dressed and that Kate accepted willingly. I was delighted. I have known we would face this step sometime and wondered how we might make a smooth transition. It turns out to have been easier than I expected. Of course, it may not be this way every time, but it’s a great start. Having the sitter assume this responsibility will ease my stress a good bit. I won’t have to worry about pushing her to get up.
After Valorie was gone, Kate and I sat side by side on the love seat in our family room and looked at one of the photo books of her family. This is one put together by her brother Ken and her cousin Sharon. It is the story of the Franklin Family Veil. One of Kate’s aunts bought the veil in Brussels in 1924 for her wedding. It has been worn by many brides in the family since that time. It contains a bit more narrative than some of the other photo books. I read to her, and she loved seeing the photos. I was touched again to share in that moment.
I try to make a point of moments like these because it is so easy to think her memory loss would prevent our experiencing such pleasures. It is true that there are things we did before that are no longer part of our lives, but much of that is offset by other things that she can appreciate. There will be a time when those will diminish as well. I’m not going to worry about those right now. I’d rather focus on these special moments that still come our way.