A Day of Rest

Normally, I have sitters for Kate Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. Yesterday was a rare exception. I had an early luncheon meeting across town and arranged for our Monday sitter, Cindy, to stay with Kate from 10:00 to 2:00. I knew when I made the arrangements that Kate might be sleeping when I left, but I hoped she might at least be ready to get up. As it turned out, she was not.

When Cindy arrived, I took her into our bedroom and told Kate that she would be there to help her with anything she needed. I pointed out Kate’s clothes to Cindy and started to leave. She asked if she should try to get Kate up. I told her that she had been up very early yesterday but that she should try to get her up at 11:30.

After my luncheon at 1:00, I checked the video cam and noticed that Kate was not up. When I arrived home, I discovered that Cindy had tried to interest her in getting up at 11:30 and again at 1:00. Neither time did Kate want to get up.

When I went to the bedroom, I found that Kate was awake but still in bed. She was quite relaxed and smiled as I came in the room. I walked over to the bed and asked if she would like to get up. At first, she said she didn’t. Then I told her it was getting late and I thought it would be good for her to get up and get a shower. She agreed and got up without a problem.

I was disappointed that she hadn’t gotten up for Cindy. My suspicion is that she didn’t remember her and, thus, did not feel comfortable getting up for her. I think she felt secure staying in bed the whole four hours. Knowing her memory is so short, I know that she couldn’t have remembered that Cindy was there or that I was gone. I imagine it was one of those moments of confusion for her, and she didn’t know what to do except stay right where she was.

She seemed to recognize me from the time I walked in. She didn’t ask my name or how we were related at all. When she was dressed, she was ready to eat. That was no surprise. By then, it was 3:00. I took her to Panera for a muffin and half a sandwich. She was very cheerful and talkative when we entered the restaurant. I don’t remember doing this before, but we both walked to the counter where I placed our order. I said hello to the young woman employee. Kate said, “My name is Kate, and this is my uncle.” I said, “Are you sure?” She said, “You are, aren’t you?” I told her I was her husband. Then she said, “If you say so.” She left to get her drink. Then I asked the woman who is a new staff member if she knew that Kate has Alzheimer’s. She didn’t. I didn’t have to go any further she understood the situation.

I was eager to see if she had picked out a table and, if so, which one she chose. She never remembers the two tables where we typically sit. When I reached her, she was standing at a table where a young man was working on his laptop. She was talking with him. When she saw me, she said to the man, “This is my uncle.” I didn’t contradict her. I began to open the puzzle app on her iPad and place on the table across from the man. She continued talking with him. He was trying to ignore her. He kept on working. We left after forty minutes for her to get her hair shampooed. This was the first time I have taken her just for a shampoo. I did so because I don’t think she is shampooing regularly at home. As we were walking out, she stopped to talk to a young boy about seven or eight who was seated across the table from a man I believe was his tutor. The boy’s backpack was sitting on a chair between the two of them. Kate thought the backpack was a baby and asked the boy if that was his brother. They quickly cleared up the mistake. The man was black and the boy white. Then Kate looked at the man and said, “You must be his mother.” Of course, the man said he wasn’t. Before we walked away, I pulled out one of “My wife has Alzheimer’s” cards and slipped to him.

From there we went to the hair salon. When Kate was finished, she walked to the front with her stylist and said, “She’s really good.” Then she looked at the stylist and said, “What’s your name?” She told her, Kate repeated it. Then she asked her again. After that she said, “You may have to tell me again.” The stylist has long known about Kate’s Alzheimer’s and handled the situation perfectly.

We had a nice dinner experience at Casa Bella. This wasn’t a music night for us. We sat in the front section where we have eaten for years until they started having music nights on Thursdays. We’ve been eating there for almost forty-seven years, but she forgot the name of the restaurant sometime during the past year. Last night she probably asked the “name of this place” seven or eight times.

She talked a good bit about feeling glad to be with me. She specifically mentioned that she wouldn’t know how to get home. I discovered in the process that she was interested in knowing the name of the restaurant in case she were to get lost. She would be able to tell someone where she had been.

Soon after we had ordered, she wanted to go to the restroom. I took her and waited outside the door for her. I told her not to lock the door that I would make sure no one else went in. When we returned to the table, she thanked me and said she would never have been able to find her way back. It’s only when she says things like this that I get a grasp of the fact that she still recognizes her own disabilities.

Near the end of our meal, a couple we know from Broadway nights were seated in the booth next to us. We had a nice conversation with them for a few minutes. It was another of those brief social encounters that enrich so many of our meal times.

Off and on throughout dinner, Kate said she was tired and wanted to get to bed early. She often says this but doesn’t follow through when we get home. As usual, she worked on her iPad for a while but was tired and called it a day shortly after 8:00. That is at least an hour earlier than normal. She was still awake when I got in bed at 9:45. It was a very short day for her but a happy one.

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