A Great Day with Kate’s Brother and His Wife

I am glad to report that yesterday’s visit with Ken and Virginia went very well. I have no idea how much of the time Kate recognized the two of them by name and/or relationship. What I know is that she enjoyed herself.

After the previous night in which she was confused about them, yesterday’s experience was a welcome one. Ken and Virginia came over about an hour before I woke Kate. When I got her up, I told her they were here and that we were going to take them to lunch. She was resting comfortably. I know she could have stayed in bed much longer, but she got up easily. When I brought her into the family room, I said, “Guess who’s here? Your brother Ken and Virginia.” They greeted her warmly, and we were off to a good start.

I had talked with Virginia about our going to the zoo after lunch. She and I both had mentioned that to Kate who responded negatively. That isn’t unusual except that her response seemed to be stronger this time. In the past, I have found that once we are there, she enjoys herself. I think it’s a good place for her because we do it leisurely, and she always finds things that are interesting. That happened again yesterday.

When we arrived, I suggested that they get out while I parked the car. Kate said, “Can’t I go with you?” That was the only indication of any insecurity I noticed the entire day. Instead of trying to take an overall tour, we went directly to the aquarium and reptile center. Kate especially enjoyed the fish. Then we went to see the Koalas and feed the Lorikeets. The latter is always a hit. Kate said she was hungry. We suggested getting ice cream which we did after leaving the Lorikeet exhibit. It was a perfect day for the zoo. Although it was windy, it was sunny and in the 70s. It was pleasant walking around as well as breaking for ice cream. From the zoo, we came home. Ken and Virginia went back to their hotel. Kate rested as well.

About an hour later, we went to dinner and then had some additional time for conversation at home. That turned out to be especially good for Kate. As people our age are prone to do, we reflected on our lives and the way we felt about the way life had turned out for us. That led to a longer conversation about our families, especially our parents. That opened the floodgates for Kate who has a strong admiration for her mother.

I doubt that any of the “facts” she told us were things that actually happened, but they did convey the truth about her feelings for her mother and herself. What she said was very self-revealing. She felt a need to live up to her mother’s reputation and found that intimidating. She told us that her mother and some of her mother’s friends had encouraged her to be her own person. She also talked about her own school achievements, especially academic ones. (These were true.) She didn’t say anything about her Alzheimer’s, but I am sure she has felt a loss of self-esteem. She often says things like “I’m smart, you know.” Or “I’m not stupid.” Indeed, she is not, but Alzheimer’s has altered brain in a way that makes it appear that she is.

I felt that this was a conversation that she couldn’t have had with anyone else. I’ll never know if she remembered their names or their relationship to her, but she clearly felt a kinship with Ken and Virginia. They listened to her and facilitated her conversation. They understood about living in her world. At one point, Ken said something about their father. Kate said, “My father did (or said) that too.” Ken started to explain that they had the same father and realized that was unimportant and let it pass. This kind of facilitation worked. Kate talked more than in a long time. I was happy for her to have such a receptive, understanding audience.

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