A Very Good Day

My video cam continues to help me monitor Kate in the morning. About 7:30 yesterday, I saw that she was about to get up and went to the bedroom. When she saw me, she said, “Do I have a meeting I have to go to?” I told her she didn’t. She asked if I was sure. I assured her she had no obligations and could rest a little longer. I took her to the bathroom and then back to bed. She asked again if she had a meeting. She must have had a dream that she did. She was glad to be able to return to bed.

About 9:30, I saw that she was getting up again. When I got to the bedroom, she said she wanted “to get out of here.” I helped her up and to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Before getting in the shower, she said, “You’re really nice to do this.” I said, “I’m glad to help you whenever I can. I love you.” She hadn’t said anything that would indicate that she remembered my name or that I am her husband, but I felt that she did.

As she was getting dressed, she joked with me about something. I said, “You have quite a sense of humor.” She said, “So do you.” I said, “I guess that’s why we’ve gotten along so well.” Then I asked if she knew how long we had been together. She guessed fifty years. I told her we had been married for fifty-five years. Then I added “Fifty-five great years.” She didn’t express any surprise and said that we had done a lot of great things. Before walking out of the bedroom, she saw a wedding photo of our daughter and asked who she was. I told her that was our daughter. Again, she didn’t act surprised.

We had a little time before a lunch and dropped by Panera for a muffin. In the car she said, “What is my name?” I told her. Then she asked my name. After I told her, I asked, “Do you know how we’re related?” She said she didn’t. I told her we were married. She said, “When did that happen?” I told her it was fifty-five years ago. She found that hard to believe. I told her we had a daughter who is fifty and a son who is forty-eight. She didn’t respond with any alarm or elation. After we were seated, she asked me to tell her my name. I gave her my name and told her I was her husband.She expressed surprise. I said, “Does that bother you?” She said, “No, I’m glad. You’re a nice guy.”

From Panera, we went to our church where the seniors were having a Mardi Gras luncheon. The entertainment was a saxophone player playing music closely identified with New Orleans. She enjoyed it. About mid-way in the program, she tapped me on my shoulder. I leaned toward her so that she could whisper in my ear. She said, “What’s your name?” A few minutes later, she said. “Where in the world are we?” When I told her we were at our church, she gave me a strange look. I quickly realized she didn’t think it looked much like a church since we were in our fellowship hall that used to double as a gym.

We both enjoyed seeing people we know but hadn’t seen in a while. The seniors meet once a month, but I somehow forget to make reservations. This time someone called to remind me. The highlight for Kate came when the saxophonist played some Dixieland music, and his wife led a conga line around the room. Only fifteen or so participated. I was one of them. Kate got a real kick out of seeing me dance around the room.

Later, as we walked to our car that was parked in front of the sanctuary, she asked, “What’s the name of this church?” I told her. She had no recognition. Then I told her this was where she had been the volunteer church librarian. At first, she didn’t remember. Then I told her what a good job she had done there. That jogged her memory, and she mentioned a few things she had done in that position. On the way home, she said, “I love you.” She followed that by asking my name. She was remarkably at ease during each of these moments her memory failed her.

It had been over a month since her last pedicure. I was beginning to feel a little guilty so I made an appointment shortly after getting home. It was no surprise that she didn’t remember anything about the procedures involved. I helped her into her chair. She commented on the water. I left her in the hands of the attendant but waited in an area where I could watch her. She hadn’t been seated long before I heard her say, “What’s the name of this place?” The woman attending her answered. Then she asked what kind of place it was. As I watched, it looked like something she must have enjoyed. When I asked her afterwards if she had enjoyed it, she shrugged. I suspect by that time she didn’t remember even though we were just outside the door to the salon.

We went back home where she rested in the family room for an hour. Then she picked up a photo album of her father’s family. She had not looked at it recently and was taken with it. While she had to ask me the names of all the people multiple times, I felt the major problem was not her vision but the Alzheimer’s impact on here sight. She seemed to have a keen recollection of most of her family except some of those who had moved away from the Fort Worth area.

The best part of the day occurred when a childhood friend from Fort Worth called. Kate was quite alert. A few minutes before the call I told her the friend was calling, but I didn’t expect Kate to remember her. If she didn’t remember, she fooled me. She handled the call with poise. I sat beside her during the call and chimed in from time to time. The biggest surprise was when she remembered the name of another childhood friend.

In addition to being so “with it,” she was unusually expressive in her appreciation to me. That was true even for things I had nothing to do with. One of those involved the photo album of her family. She gave me credit for everything I had done. I told her I hadn’t done it, but she said I had assisted in getting it done. Actually, I had nothing to do with it. It was put together entirely by her brother Ken.

The rest of the day went smoothly. She was in a good mood all day. Except for the various questions she asked about names and places, no one would have ever suspected she is into her ninth year of Alzheimer’s and what I estimate to be the middle of Stage 6 of the Seven-Stage Model of the Progression of Alzheimer’s. How lucky we are.