The Day After

Following the “Very Good Day” day before yesterday, we were back to what I might call the new normal. It’s probably more accurate to say there is simply less predictability in our daily lives than there used to be. The expression “remarkably well” continues to be a good summary, but Kate is definitely not the same as she was even six or eight weeks ago.

I was encouraged when I went in to wake her. As the day before, she was already awake and gave me a nice smile. She was fine until I tried to help her out of bed. She wanted to do it without my assistance. I backed off, but the damage was done. From that point until nearly the time we left the house for lunch, she seemed both irritated with me and afraid. It wasn’t that she was afraid of me. I think it was a case of fear from not knowing where she was, who I was, who she was, or what she should do. She held on to me as we walked to the bathroom. When we got there, she didn’t know what to do. I pointed to the toilet and said, “Why don’t you go to the bathroom first. Then you can wash your hands and brush your teeth. That was too much information. I know better than to do that, but it was too late to take it back. That didn’t set well with her. She was not only irritated but confused. When she was ready, she said, “I don’t know what to do. Just tell me.” I put toothpaste on her toothbrush and handed it to her. She dropped the toothbrush in the sink, and the toothpaste came off. I told it came off and would get her some more. The same thing happened a second time. She felt I had rushed her and strongly expressed her irritation with me. Then she apologized for the way she had spoken to me and started to cry. I tried to calm her and was mostly successful, but it wasn’t until we were on the way to lunch that her emotion subsided.

The rest of the day went well. We had a nice time at lunch,, during the balance of the afternoon, and at dinner. Then on the way home from dinner last night, Kate said, “Where do you live?” I said, “Right here in Knoxville. I’m taking you home right now. You can spend the night with me.” She answered, “You mean the three of us.” I said, “Who is the third?” She gave me a look of irritation and said, “You know who.” I didn’t pursue it any further. I’ve learned that I never get an answer when she says that.

A Very Good Day

In many ways, yesterday was just an ordinary day. I got Kate up in time for the sitter who arrived at noon. I went to my Rotary meeting, to the Y, and the grocery store before getting back home to relieve the Cindy. Kate and I relaxed in the family room for an hour and then went to dinner and returned home. We received a phone call from our daughter and ended the day. So why do I think it was “a very good day?” Let me tell you.

We were off to a good start when I went to wake Kate shortly after 11:00. She was already awake and gave me a smile that said, “Everything is all right. I’m just enjoying resting.” I sat down on the bed and we talked a few minutes before telling her it was time to get up. She wasn’t eager, but when I explained that I was going to Rotary and Cindy would take her to lunch, she agreed to get up. She was in a good mood and, other than needing me to guide her to the bathroom, she gave no sign of her normal early morning confusion.

She dressed slowly, but promptly, and was ready before Cindy arrived. I was leading her to the kitchen for her morning meds when she wanted to stop and admire the flowers in our family room and the ones on the patio. I enjoy watching her experience such joy. We started toward the kitchen, she stopped and said hello to the ceramic cat that has been a “pet” for quite a few years. He is now resting in front of a cabinet beside the fireplace as we walk to the kitchen. Then she noticed, as she almost always does, pictures of her father, our son, and me when I was about twelve. She loves looking at them, and her pleasure increases when I tell her “who we are.”

When Cindy arrived, Kate gave her a hug and showed no signs of concern about my leaving. They were sitting in the family room when I got back. I was glad that it did not appear that Kate had taken a nap as she often does. Even though she often naps after lunch, I sometimes feel that she uses that as a way to escape the sitter. This time they were talking. I also saw that she had the three-ring binder memory book on the table next to her. She had been looking at it.

One of the highlights of the day came after Cindy left. Most of the time, Kate is ready for us to leave the house as soon as I get home. Recently, that has been changing. Yesterday Kate gave me no indication that she was ready to go out. I turned on some music that I know she likes and sat down with my laptop to check my email. After a few minutes, I looked over at her. She had closed her eyes. Each hand was flat against the other as if in prayer. I have observed this on several other occasions. She continued to enjoy the music for about forty-five minutes. She periodically opened her eyes. She also released her hands off and on depending on the particular song that was playing. Her facial expressions and her hands worked in harmony with specific segments of the songs. Sometimes she was smiling. Other times, she was teary. She was enjoying herself so much that we went to dinner thirty minutes later than usual.

Another highlight occurred after we returned home from dinner. We received a phone call from our daughter who had just returned from a trip to England and France with her seventeen-year-old twin boys. It was their first trip, and she was excited to tell us about it. Kate said only a few words but listened intently to Jesse as she recounted their experiences.

When I reflect on our day, I have to say it was good day. Looking back, I don’t recall a single time she asked my name, or hers, or where we were or anything like that. It was a day when she was not talkative but at ease and seemed to know me and her surroundings. She might not have, but I like to think that she did.

More Signs of Change

I notice lots of little things that suggest Kate’s brain is undergoing more significant changes. If they were isolated things, I wouldn’t think much about it. It’s the accumulation of so many in a relatively short period of time that strikes me most. Consider the following things that have occurred over the past few days.

On the way home from dinner a few nights ago, she said, “My house or yours?” I said, “Yours.” I didn’t explore this any further, but this was something new. She often doesn’t recognize I am her husband or recognize our house, but I’ve never heard her refer to her house or mine. What was she thinking that prompted this? I don’t know. That’s true for many of the things she says or does.

Walking to the car after dinner last night, she said, “I wouldn’t want to have their job.” I asked who she was talking about. She said, “You know those people with the ‘stuffies.’” She knew that wasn’t the right word but couldn’t think of the word she wanted. She counts on me to know what she means. As usual, I just indicated I understood and agreed with her.

She was up early yesterday. I think she must have had a dream because she was worried about having to be some place. I assured her that she didn’t have any obligations and could go back to bed.

While she was resting on the sofa that afternoon, she said, “Do I have to go some place? A meeting or something?” She seemed quite concerned. I told her she didn’t have anything on her schedule. A few minutes later, she opened her eyes and pointed in the direction of the door to the kitchen and asked, “What’s in there?” I mentioned several things. They were not what she meant and seemed frustrated that I didn’t immediately recognize what she was talking about. I told her the kitchen was on the other side of the doorway and the laundry room to the right of that. Nothing I said gave her the answer she wanted, and she gave up asking.

She has also been talking in her sleep more than usual. She doesn’t say much. Often it is like a simple statement or answer to a question that someone in her dream has asked.

Her intuitive abilities seem to be in overdrive sometimes, but that is a good thing. It usually means she is deriving pleasure from things around her– flowers, plants, and trees in particular. Some of her aesthetic interests are a little strange, but they, too, provide pleasure. She takes greater interest in tidiness and the arrangements of things than in the past. She is often careful about the way she places her flatware, glass and napkin on the table at restaurants. Yesterday as we walked through the laundry room to the garage, she noticed a washcloth I had put out to dry. She liked the way it looked. A few weeks ago, she asked me to take a picture of the cloth napkin she had used at a restaurant. She had just dropped it on the table and thought it looked a little like a sculpture. Although I wouldn’t have thought about it until she said so, I agreed with her and took the photo. At her request, I take more pictures these days.

For years, she has not wanted to stay anyplace, including home, for more than a couple of hours. That was a main reason we started going to the café at Barnes & Noble in the afternoon. Now we usually chooses to stay at home most afternoons. On the other hand, sometimes in the morning she says, “Let’s get out of here.” I assume that is a time when she thinks we are staying at some other place than our home.

I believe the primary reason for wanting to spend more time at home relates to her resting more. She seems more tired these days. I notice, however, that it is not necessarily sleep that she needs. Yesterday, for example, she rested two hours or more with her eyes open and running her fingers through her hair. She often spends almost that amount of time doing the same thing after going to bed at night.

Something of greater significance to me is that she seems to be using her iPad somewhat less than in the past. I believe that relates directly to her feeling tired and frustrated with the difficulty she has working her puzzles. I attribute both being tired and frustrated to the changes going on in her brain. At the same time, she may be spending more time with her family photo books. She is occasionally confused when her photo books don’t work the same way as the puzzles on her iPad. She touches a photo and expects it to scatter into puzzle pieces. When it doesn’t, she doesn’t know what to do.

Despite these changes, Kate and I had a nice day yesterday. We didn’t do a lot, but we enjoyed our time together.

Special Moments

Given Kate’s decline and my comments about sad moments, I felt a need to let you know that we still experience happy moments as well. In fact, they still outweigh the sad ones. We had a several of those yesterday. The first occurred at lunch. When our server greeted us, she reached out to give Kate a hug, something she does when we arrive and leave each Saturday. Kate gave her a warm embrace. Then she looked at me as if to introduce me and said, “This is my friend.” I agreed and said, “She is a good friend, isn’t she?” Kate beamed and said, “Yes, a very good friend.” I know that Kate doesn’t remember our server, at least by name, but she has developed a feeling for her. When she walked away, Kate said, “I like her. She’s so friendly.”

I love everything about moments like this. They are a major reason we eat out. We only get hugs at one other restaurant, but being regulars at so many places provides us with a kind of warmth that is decidedly different than the good service we receive at places we visit only periodically. And that is in addition to the people we encounter who are friends and acquaintances from our other community activities. Food really is quite secondary to the overall experience.

I don’t think I can overemphasize the pleasure Kate derives from her intuitive abilities. The experience at lunch is just one example. We experienced another special moment when we got home. As usual, she immediately looked at the flowers on our patio from the family room. She admired them a few minutes. Then she said she wanted to rest a while. She mentioned going to the bedroom, but I suggested she might want to lie down on the sofa in the family room where I would work on my laptop. She liked the idea and took a seat. As she did, she noticed one of her family photo books, this one focusing on her father’s family.

We have done so much of this that I know she can’t remember the people in the pictures and has difficulty reading the accompanying text. I asked if she would like me to go through it with her. She said yes, and I sat down beside her. We spent about thirty minutes going through about half the book. She was thoroughly enjoying herself, but she again said she was tired and wanted to finish later. Like a little child, she asked if she could lie down for a while. Then she asked if she could take her shoes off.

I sat down in a chair across from her. She was lying facing the sliding glass doors leading to the patio and backyard. She didn’t close her eyes. She looked at the dense growth of trees on our neighbor’s property. From her vantage point, she can look at them from the top of the wall on our property to the tops of the trees that are visible through the room’s skylights. She never seems to tire of admiring them. She didn’t go to sleep or even close her eyes for at least forty-five minutes. During that time, she called my attention to things she noticed like the different shades of greens, the height of the two tallest trees, and shimmering of the leaves as the wind picked up.

Last night when I got in bed, she was still awake . That’s when we had a conversation that was another happy moment of the day. We talked about the day and how nice it had been. Then I said something about our daughter. She said, “Our daughter?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “How did that happen?” I responded by telling her about our dating, falling in love, and getting married. That led her to say that we had a happy marriage. She said, “We just clicked.” She mentioned our having shared values and said, “You know, we laugh a lot. I think that helps.” We talked another ten minutes or so when she closed the conversation by saying, “and it (our marriage) is going to last. I was ready to believe that my telling the story of how we fell in love and married had jogged her memory. “Now she understands who I am.” That’s when she asked what has become a familiar question. “And what is your name?” Of course, she may have realized we are married, but I suspect she didn’t at that moment. At best, her memory lasts only seconds. It’s just as possible that she didn’t remember. I am learning, however, to take pleasure in the joy she experiences through her intuitive abilities. That seems to work. It creates a lot more happy moments than I might notice otherwise.

Interpreting Kate’s Feelings

Yesterday Kate greeted me with a smile when I went in to get her up. I always like that and want to think that means she knows my name and that I am her husband. She didn’t say anything that would let me know, and I didn’t ask. I told her I liked her smile and reminded her how often she comments about other people’s smiles. It seems to be one of the first things she notices. I told her I loved her. She said she loved me. Then she appeared very sad and her eyes filled with tears.

During most of our marriage, I rarely saw any tears. Since Alzheimer’s entered the picture, tears have become more common. As she declines, she is much more emotional. Tears flow at happy and sad moments. In moments like this particular one, I wonder if she experiences the same feelings I do. Every time I say, “I love you” I feel I am also saying, “Goodbye.” I know that I am losing a little bit of her every day. Her senses are keen. She knows something is wrong with her. At some level, I think she, too, feels that our time together is fleeting.

Contrasting Social Situations and Kate’s Response

It seems that Kate’s current behavior is, in part, related to the situations in which she finds herself. Yesterday, she reacted very differently to two social situations. The first was lunch with our senior pastor. As I had done when we met my Twitter friend last weekend, I made sure that she was seated directly across the table from him. He was also good about including her in our conversation. Kate responded accordingly. He and I did most of the talking, but she was also an active participant. Both of us enjoyed our time together. I doubt that our pastor could see much difference in her since we had lunch together two to three months ago.

Last night was an altogether different experience. We went to Casa Bella for Broadway night. We sat at a table for ten, and the talking was louder than usual. Often when we arrive there is only one other couple with whom we sit each time. That enables her to establish a comfort level. Last night, we were the first ones there. Shortly after, the rest of the group arrived. I think this was overwhelming for Kate even though everyone was good about speaking to her.

While we were waiting for our server to bring our meal, Kate started looking around the room. She looked very concerned. She said, “Where did she go?” I said, “Who do you mean?” She said, “The woman who came with us.” I told her it was just the two of us, that nobody came with us. She didn’t seem convinced.

Until the food arrived fifteen minutes later, she was very uncomfortable. She said that she was looking for her food. I told her they were preparing it, and it would be coming soon. She continued to be very bothered and wanted me to speak with the server. At one point, she caught the eye of our server and motioned for her to come to her. Before she could ask about our meal, I told the server we were fine, and she walked away. Kate’s distress continued until the meal arrived. Then she devoted her attention to eating.

On a typical music night, Kate would have loved the music. She did respond well to two or three numbers but expressed little enthusiasm for the overall program. The singers were outstanding, but they sang a lot of Sondheim’s music. It was not as melodic as she likes. She was glad when we left.

The whole experience made me wonder what the future holds in terms of our attendance at these music nights. They have played an important part in our lives for the past six or seven years. Last night, she did not enjoy herself the way she has in the past. She seemed to be bordering on causing a scene because her food had not arrived when she thought it should. I’ll just have to play this by ear in the future. If we are going to continue sitting at a large table, I may experiment by getting a table for two. Crowds appear to be a growing problem.

Update on Kate’s Changes

Although Kate did not experience any moments of discouragement or sadness, her memory and overall functional ability were no better yesterday. She was in a good mood when I went in to wake her. She smiled and responded to me as though she knew exactly who I am. I told her I loved her, and she said she loved me. As so often happens, she then said, “Who are you?” About forty minutes later we were ready to go to lunch. In the laundry room as we were headed to the car, she said, “I don’t know where I am or where I’ve been or where I’m going.” She said this without any sense of despair or anxiety, but she was perplexed.

We returned home just before the sitter arrived. Given her growing insecurity, I wondered how she would respond when I told her I was leaving for the Y and Mary would be staying with her. It turned out there was no problem. She showed no sign of insecurity at all. I was relieved. Then I wondered what I might encounter when I got home. That was not a problem either. She and Mary were talking when I arrived. Mary told me that Kate had wanted to talk. She said that Kate had told her about some group of which she was a part and that she was trying to decide whether to drop out or not. Kate didn’t seem to remember that at all. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about either. Mary said goodbye and started to leave when Kate asked her to wait. She got up and walked over to Mary and said, “Let me give you a big hug.” I was very pleased. As I’ve said before, Kate has a kind heart.

At dinner she carefully placed her napkin on the table in front of her as if to use it as a placemat. It wasn’t long before she wanted a different arrangement of her knife and fork and the napkin. She tore the napkin into three pieces, using one part as a coaster for her iced tea, another for her knife and fork, and the third as a smaller placemat. Many times she asks me what to do with her napkin. She almost always gravitates to using it as a placemat. When she asks, I tell her it’s her napkin and that she can put it in her lap to wipe her hands when she needs it. That seems a difficult instruction for her to understand.

It was another day that she was tired and wanted to rest. We stayed in the family room only a short time before she wanted to go back to the bedroom. I brought her nightgown to her. She put it on right away got into bed. She planned to work on her iPad a while but forgot or changed her mind and called it a night. She is tired more often than she has been in the past.

In an email yesterday, my friend Tom Robinson read my post that Kate seemed to be on a more significant decline. He asked if it is possible this decline could be followed by a similar improvement. I told him that it is possible and explained that she regularly has moments when her symptoms are not as obvious as they have been recently. Today could be different than the past few days.

Having reflected on this, I think it is more complicated than any of us fully understands. Periodically over the past eight and a half years, she has exhibited changes in her behavior. I think one of the best examples is forgetting my name. The first time that happened, there was a tendency of me to conclude that she had completely forgotten and would never know it again. That was almost a year ago, and she still knows my name sometimes; however, she calls my name much less frequently now than she did then.

Kate’s behavior in recent days is different than I have seen in the past, but it is not surprising. She is exhibiting the kind of changes that accompany the latter stage(s) of Alzheimer’s. I don’t know that she will be this way today or tomorrow or the day after that, but I do know I will see more things like this in the future. I will continue to cherish the good times, but I will be sad at other times.

A Day of Sad Moments

I’ve heard other caregivers talk about points on this journey in which their loved ones took a sudden downturn, but Kate’s decline has been very gradual until recently. During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed more changes that occur almost from one day to the next. Yesterday this pattern continued.

It started when I got her up for lunch. She was awake; she just didn’t want to get up. It took the better part of an hour get her to consent. When I walked her to the bathroom, she started shaking. In addition to holding my hand, she grabbed on to my arm with her other hand. She looked frightened just like she did the day before in Nashville. As I did then, I asked if she was afraid. She said she wasn’t. My best guess is that she didn’t know where she was and felt very insecure.

Once she was dressed, I decided to go to a place that is a little farther from home than we usually go. My purpose was to play music she likes in the car and let her begin to feel at ease. That worked, and we had a nice lunch. We had an especially friendly server and joked with him periodically throughout our meal.

When we got home, Kate asked what she could do. I gave the iPad to her and told her she could work her puzzles or look at her photo albums. She chose the iPad. That didn’t last long. She was very tired and asked if she could lie down on the sofa. I told her that would be fine. I let her rest for the next thirty minutes before getting her up for her hair appointment. Unlike the morning, she got up without a problem.

She seemed very needy as we drove away from the house. She said she liked me and liked being with me. She said something similar as we left the hair salon.

Back at the house, she started working puzzles. Very soon she was frustrated and asked me to help her. She looked depressed and was almost in tears. She had reached a point at which she didn’t know what to do. She wanted me to finish her puzzle for her. She asked me to work another. I explained what I was doing with every piece. Then I asked if she would like to work one. She did but wanted me to help her. We tried, but she seemed too tired to think. I said, “I love you and want you to know that I will always be with you.” She said, “I know that, and I need you.” She said she needed a break. I suggested we go to dinner. As she got up from her chair, she said, “You just tell me everything I should do.” This was a very sad moment. Once again, it reveals an awareness of her difficulties, and that is painful for both of us.

On the way, I played music that I knew she would like. That seemed to lift her spirits. We enjoyed our dinner. Near the end, however, she got very sad about the servers. She said she never had to work like that. That got her thinking more broadly about all the people who struggle to make ends meet. She said she grew up taking her life for granted. It is not unusual for her to express such feelings, but she doesn’t usually seem so depressed.

Typically when we arrive at home after dinner, Kate likes to sit in our family and work on the iPad. Last night, she said she was tired and wanted to go to the bedroom. I asked if she would like to watch our DVD of Les Miserables. I thought it would be a good idea because it is our favorite musical. I neglected to take into account the sadness it portrays. It wasn’t long before I could see that she was sad. I asked if she would like to watch something more upbeat. She did. I pulled up a series of segments from Andre Rieu concerts. In the meantime, she decided to go to bed. Fortunately, she sleeps well at night. It wasn’t a good night for me. I was awake at 1:00 and didn’t get back to sleep until after 3:00. I wonder what today will bring.

Changing Times

Kate and I were in Nashville this past weekend to visit our friend, Ellen, who now lives in memory care. We stayed in a hotel overnight to have a leisurely morning and lunch before visiting her. For most of the day, Kate was not herself. She slept later than I expected or wanted. When I got her up, we had less than an hour before checking out and our reservations for lunch. I tried not to rush her, but she felt rushed nonetheless. Her response was different than usual. I am always concerned about her having a panic attack, something that hasn’t happened in several years. Instead, she seemed frightened and pulled herself away from me a couple of times as I helped her with her clothes. I asked if I had scared her, and she said no.

When we got to the restaurant, she was friendly with the people she met. That is not unusual, but the way she spoke to people outside and inside the restaurant sounded like someone who might have had a little too much to drink.

She got along well once we were seated at our table, but her eyesight caused a few problems. She didn’t recognize it was bread in the bread basket. I picked out a couple of pieces and put them on her bread plate along with some butter which was already soft. In a few minutes, she picked up the butter with her hand and put it in her mouth. Apparently, she thought it was a piece of bread. She didn’t care for it and put it down, but she had a glob of butter on her fingers. I tried to help her wipe her hands on her napkin. I first explained what I was I was going to do, but she was confused and didn’t understand. That shook her up for a minute or two.

We both went to the restroom before leaving. When she came out, she had a paper towel in her hand and dropped it on the floor of the hallway. She apparently didn’t see where to deposit it in the bathroom. As we left, she told everyone goodbye in much the same manner as she had done when we entered.

The big surprise of the day came after we had arrived at Ellen’s memory care facility. We sat down with her in the activities room which was vacant at the time. This time we found that we could understand even less of what Ellen said than the last time. Very quickly Kate played a role that was very different than on our other visits. She took the role of caregiver. Ellen was the one she was caring for. She spoke to her as though Ellen were a child, and she was her caregiver. The tone of her voice was very much like that of an adult talking to a small child. She held Ellen’s hand and discovered that it was cold. She proceeded to explain how Ellen could rub her hands together to warm them up. It was much more of a leadership role than she would normally take. Although Ellen has great difficulty speaking, she seems to understand us quite well. She looked a little puzzled and almost laughed a few times as Kate took charge.

We tried to converse for over thirty minutes before I decided to pull out my iPad and play a few YouTube videos of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals from past BBC PROMS concerts. Initially, both Kate and Ellen were interested. Then Kate saw a few small pieces of debris from a plant in the center of the table. This started a re-run of an experience she had the night of our anniversary dinner in Knoxville when she mistook the tiny bread crumbs as insects and took pleasure in trying to catch them moving. She did exactly the same thing at Ellen’s. The difference was that she became much more absorbed than she had on our anniversary. She completely tuned out of the YouTube videos to watch “the insects.” She was fixated on them for the next 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, Ellen went to sleep. That left me as the only one watching the videos.

I looked at my watch and saw that it was close to the time for a guest to lead the residents at their Sunday afternoon music time. I suggested we join the crowd. What happened then was my biggest surprise of the day. As we walked in, the woman in charge of the program was playing the piano while the residents and a few staff sang. Kate very quickly joined in. She not only sang; she also danced. The leader played a series of very upbeat and familiar tunes to a group our age. Most of them, however, were further along in their dementia than Kate who became the most active participant. Periodically during the songs and at the end of a song, she said in a very loud voice “Woooooe.” It was loud enough that no one could miss it. A mother and her two teenage daughters were standing near us and got a kick out of Kate’s participation. I am sure the leader was pleased. She probably would have liked everyone to respond in a similar way.

So how did I feel about this? I was pleased. It was good to see her enjoy herself so much. As I have mentioned before, she and I often sing in the car. Sometimes I can push her into dancing a little at home, but she was completely unleashed at Ellen’s. Her filter was off. She responded the way she felt. I liked that, and in this situation it was perfectly acceptable. I would have felt very differently if this happened at one of our music nights at Casa Bella. In Ellen’s memory care facility it was one of our joyful moments.

At the same time, I was sad because this was the first time in a public situation that Kate behaved so much like a person with dementia. Until recently, she has gotten along well. In casual contacts, most people would never suspect that she has Alzheimer’s. That is changing now. She seemed a little like the residents around her. Kate is not at their stage yet, but all the signs suggest she is not far away.

Joy and Sadness Intertwined

The other day I mentioned that I experience more sad moments now, but that does not mean that we don’t experience many joyful ones as well. Our Saturday meeting with Joan, my Twitter friend, is a good example of that. Even in our daily lives we have such moments. There are also times when I experience both joy and sadness at the same time.

As we arrived home from lunch the other day, Kate asked me her mother’s name. When I told her, she said, “I wish I could have known her.” I said, “Let’s go inside, and I’ll show you some pictures and tell you about her.” Once inside, I took her to the hallway where there are several family photos. I pointed out one of her mother that is a favorite of mine. It must have been taken when she was about twenty. Kate has always liked it as well. She asked me who it was. For several minutes, she looked at it and commented on her mother’s eyes and how beautiful she was. She was deeply touched. Then I showed her pictures of her father. She asked his name and said, “He looks like a good man.” I told her he was “a very good man.” I followed that by showing her a photo of her grandmother. Kate was excited to learn that she had been the first member of the family to attend TCU.

After looking at these pictures, we went back to the family room where I showed her an album she and her brother had made of her mother’s family. It was just like the first time she had ever seen it. She was excited.

After dinner that night, she worked on her iPad for a while. I noticed that she had put it down and was just sitting in the chair looking bored. I brought in the “Big Sister” album that her brother Ken had given her a year ago. We went through a few pages together before I took my shower. She continued to look through it until she was tired, but she had had a day of pleasure looking at her family photos.

They were moments of joy for me as well, but that joy was accompanied by a measure of sadness as I perceived that the pictures did not bring back memories in the way they had done in the past. They only served as brief moments during which I told her about her family. The memory was gone just as fast as I gave her their names. Her interest in the photos struck me as a vain effort to reclaim her memories of family. We’re in a different place now.