I don’t have a good explanation, but Kate has seemed to accept the sitter happily over the past three weeks or so. Yesterday’s experience was the best yet. It reminded me of another experience in that I didn’t leave immediately after Mary arrived. I was trying to take care of some last-minute tax business and continued working at least another thirty minutes. I was in the kitchen and could hear the two of them talking but had no idea what they were talking about.
When I was ready to leave, I walked into the family room where Kate and Mary were seated side by side on the love seat. They were looking at one of Kate’s photo books. I assumed it was one of the family books. When I got closer, I could see that it was a photo book I had made two years ago with photos taken during several of our summer visits to Chautauqua. I stopped a minute and just listened. Kate was telling her about the beauty of the places in the photos. She came to one and said, “I don’t know what this is?” I told her.
Knowing that recently Kate has been unable to remember Chautauqua, I couldn’t help but wonder what she had been telling Mary. It was clear that she was saying something about the various pictures. I was just happy to leave her while she was having such a good time.
When I got home, they were seated in exactly the same place. This time they were looking at photos from an old album that I believe her father had put together. Kate said, “You should have gotten here earlier. We needed you.” I said, “What for?” She said, “To help us identify who all these people are.” I identified her mother and father. Before Mary left, she told me that they had taken a break during the afternoon. Kate took a nap. Then they went back to their photos. I felt good knowing that Kate had been perfectly comfortable while I was away. The way I saw them interacting was just like two friends talking. I consider that a real victory.
After Mary left, I sat down with Kate. We spent the next fifteen minutes looking at photos before she said she was getting tired. It was getting close to dinner time, so I suggested we get ready for our Friday night pizza.
I should add that one thing Kate has lacked the past four years is a close friend. Prior to that she and her friend Ellen ate lunch every Monday while I was at Rotary. They also got together one or two other times during the week. Ellen’s stroke changed everything. The stroke occurred while she was visiting her daughter in Nashville. She was never able to return to home and has been in memory care for almost two years. Kate and I visit her regularly, but that is very different from the kind of relationship the two of them had for so many years. Thus, the development of a closer relationship with the sitters could go a long way in filling the vacuum that Ellen left behind. I don’t expect the relationship to be the same as it was with her, but I feel encouraged by the way things are going.