Shortly after I had explained to Kate that Karen is our daughter and Lee is her husband, she shifted her focus to our relationship. She was happy and said, “I am beginning to feel normal again.” I asked her to explain what she meant. She stumbled on her words, but said, “I am feeling at ease, and I attribute that to you.” She also thanked me “for bringing me here. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.” She went on to say how much she appreciated my patience with her and how that helped her to feel relaxed. Over the next twenty minutes to our hotel, she continued to express that sentiment. In some of her comments, she noted how many things I do for her that she can’t do. I don’t think she was speaking specifically about things she couldn’t do because of Alzheimer’s, but that is the way it sounded.
When we got to the hotel, she said, “You are my best friend. I feel I can tell you anything. I trust you.” This was mixed with an extension of the conversation we had had in the car. She reiterated how relaxed she is with me. Twice she said, “I feel we just connect, and we haven’t known each other that long.” I started to tell her that I was her husband and that we have been married fifty-five years but decided not to say anything. At various points I thought she knew me as her husband. At others I wasn’t sure. I do know that near the end of our conversation she said, “What’s your name?” To me this was a dramatic illustration of the power of feelings over her rational mind. It is also a reminder that it is only a matter of time before she won’t remember either my name or that I am her husband, but I will treasure moments like this one. She was happy, and although I felt a touch of sadness, I was happy for her.