What a Difference a Smile Makes

Several times I’ve mentioned Kate’s smiling as I enter the bedroom to check on her in the morning. I love that smile. It reminds me of those days before Alzheimer’s. Even now as I understand that the smile doesn’t mean that she remembers my name or that I am her husband, her smile gives me a good feeling. I think “What a great way to start the day.”

It’s not always that way. Take yesterday for example. She wasn’t smiling. Instead, she looked as though she wished I hadn’t come in. Now that I am more aware of her ability to learn intuitively, I suspect she knows that when I walk in, I am probably there to get her up. Yesterday she told me she wanted to stay in bed a little longer, perhaps a lot longer. So it is understandable that she didn’t smile. It was only when I told her Mary, our sitter, was coming and that I hoped I could take her to lunch that she decided to get up. As usual, she was appreciative and thanked me for helping her get to the bathroom and dressing, but she expressed her independence and was irritated at my attempt to help.

She joked with me as we prepared to leave the house. It was one of those times when her jokes had a little bite to them and, of course, at my expense. I didn’t joke with her. Kate has never been one to joke. I have often joked with her. Like all jokers, I sometimes go too far. A year or two ago, I felt our joking with each other was getting out of hand. I stopped. I started responding more lovingly all the time even when she joked with me. I think that had a great impact. She still likes to kid me, but it seems less bitter.

She didn’t say much as we drove to lunch. As I helped her out of the car, she said, “I love you.” For the balance of the day, she was just fine. When we went to bed, she said, “It’s been a wonderful day.” I agreed. I like her smiles. Even when she doesn’t begin with a smile, she ends with one.

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