A Touching Morning Conversation

I am never sure what Kate will be like when she wakes in the morning. She is usually in a good humor, but she is often confused and sometimes irritable. Today was an interesting mix of tenderness and confusion. The prelude to a touching conversation occurred when I noticed on the video cam that she was sitting up in bed. I went to the bedroom. I found that she wanted to go to the bathroom, but she didn’t want my help. I think it was one of those rare times when she didn’t recognize me at all. I pointed out the bathroom and left to watch on the video. She made her way to the bathroom. I went back when I saw her come out. After she was back in bed, I told her I would be in the kitchen and to call me if she needed anything. She asked my name. I told her, and she tried to repeat it. We went through this routine several times. Before I left, I said, “If you don’t remember my name, just say ‘Hey.’”

An hour later, I heard a very soft “Hello.” Before I reached her, I heard it again. By that time, I was at the door to the bedroom and said, “Did I hear you calling for me?” She nodded. She smiled, and I thought this was one of those mornings when she clearly knew our relationship. She said, “I love you.” I took that as confirmation of my suspicion.

I was wrong. I sat down on the bed beside her. She said, “I want to thank you for taking such good care of me.” I said, “That’s because I love you.” She said, “I love you.” She paused a moment and said, “What’s your name?” Before I could say anything, she recognized how strange that sounded. She laughed and said, “I know that sounds funny.”

That began a 15-20 minute conversation a portion of which I recorded on my phone. The gist of the conversation was a continuation of her expression of appreciation for my caring for her as well as how she feels about me. That continued to be mixed with asking my name. She also referred to me as her daddy. Once or twice she asked if I were. The first time I hesitated and then told her I wasn’t. She was disappointed. I said, “You can think of me as your daddy.” She liked that and continued to call me her daddy, but she also talked about loving me in a way that was more like she thought of me as her husband. Of all the things she said, I was struck by one particular thing. She looked teary and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I know you will take care of me.” I assured her that I would.

I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered to what extent she grasps her problem. I am positive she doesn’t remember that she has Alzheimer’s, but she frequently expresses a concern about herself. She knows that something is wrong. Her comment this morning suggests to me that she thinks it’s something serious.

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