I have often mentioned how much pleasure Kate and I receive because of her intuitive abilities. Recently, I indicated that they seem even more intense now than they used to be. Several things have happened in the past few days that reinforce my belief that they really are more intense now than before. All of them involve behaviors I have previously observed, but they were so much stronger than normal I wanted to pass them along. They are all experiences that involve her emotional response to visual stimuli.
Many of them involve her feelings about trees and flowering plants. She seems enraptured wherever she sees them. The plants on our patio and the trees on the neighbor’s property behind our house get most of her attention. She stops to look at them almost every time she passes through our family room. It also includes the flora she sees whenever we are in the car. This occurs even in areas that I wouldn’t say are especially beautiful, like some of the areas on either side of a highway. One of those instances happened at Chalupas Monday night. As we entered the restaurant, she saw two large pots with a grassy plant similar to liriope. They looked desperate for water. She immediately reacted to them and told the server who greeted us how beautiful they were. They have been in the same place for as long as I can remember, but this was the first time she has reacted to them.
The strength of her feelings is illustrated in a variety of other ways. She bought a ceramic cat many years ago that she used to keep in the bath off our our laundry room. It was something of a surprise to visitors who saw it at the base of the toilet. I moved it to the family room sometime in the past year or so. It now resides on the floor near the doorway from the family room to the kitchen. We pass by it every time we leave the house. It is only recently that she has taken special notice of it. Now she stops and says hello each time she walks by. A couple of weeks ago, she said we ought to give him a name. The next time she walked by him I told her his name is Pepper for Dr. Pepper since that is her favorite drink. She can’t remember the name, but she always likes it when I tell her.
She also takes greater interest in family photos each day. Two of those are of our daughter in her wedding gown that sit on a dresser in our bedroom. They catch her eye every morning. She doesn’t remember they are of our daughter, but she loves looking at her and her smile. The other pictures are grouped together as we leave the family room. Two of them are of our son when he was a child. Another is a picture of me when I was about twelve. There is one more of her father. It has become a ritual to stop and look at these photos each time we go out. She surprised me yesterday morning when she saw her father. She said, “I know who that is.” I said, “Who?” She said, “My father.” That was the first time I recall her recognizing this photo of him. On several occasions recently, she has picked up the photos of our son and asked if she could take them with us. I let her take them to the car. Once we are in the car, she usually gives them to me. I find a secure place to put them and return them to the house when we get home. The walk through our family room is turning out to be something that energizes her as we leave.
Night before last, she went to the bathroom before we went to dinner. She noticed a ceramic container with artificial flowers beside the sink. She had purchased it on our last trip to Fort Worth. Until last night, I don’t remember her saying anything about it. But she brought it to me. She said she loved it and asked if she could take it with us. I told her she could. It remained in the car until we got home when I brought it inside and put it back where she had found it. She not only received pleasure from seeing it but also being able to take it with her.
Another example occurred after lunch yesterday. As I turned into the driveway, she was puzzled about why we were here. I said, “This is our house. You’ll recognize it once we are inside.” I gave her a tour of the house similar to what I have done a couple of times in the past but much shorter. I pointed out a portrait of her grandfather and another of her mother, wedding photos of her and our daughter Jesse, and other artwork. She raved about everything she saw but never responded as though she had ever been here before.
When we circled around to the family room, she wanted to rest. She lay down on the sofa looking toward the backyard. She responded to that with enthusiasm. In addition, she looked around the room, and commented on how much she said she liked it. She said, “This is beautiful, and I haven’t even seen the rest of the house.” I told her I would be glad to show it to her. She said, “Not right now. Maybe tomorrow. I just want to rest.” And that is just what she did for the next three hours. She started working on her iPad but put it down after a few minutes. She was never asleep. I offered to go through family photo books, but she preferred to lie there. Like the day before, she was content. By the way, the battery on her iPad was at 81% of capacity this morning when I brought it to the kitchen to be charged. That makes three days in a row that the iPad hasn’t seen much use.
Experiences like these are not only important for her, but they are for me as well. It is sad that the tour of half the house did not jog her memory at all. On the other hand, she enjoyed the house tour. It’s an illustration of how each of us is still able to provide pleasure for the other. At this stage of her Alzheimer’s, that is priceless.