An Early and Cheerful Start to an Emotional Day

Kate got up on her own about 9:30 yesterday morning. She didn’t seem groggy at all and was quite cheerful. I took advantage of the occasion and got her to shower. That’s not something she usually wants to do, but she always likes it once she is under the water. As I helped her dry off, I joked that this must be like having her own personal spa service at home. She laughed and said, “That’s something I like about you. You have a sense of humor.”

Her good humor did not indicate a lack of confusion. As she was putting on her shoes, she pointed to the carpet and said something about her mother. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but it sounded like she saw her mother on the floor.  It turned out there was a white spec on the dark blue carpet that bothered her. I think this was one of those instances in which she just couldn’t think of the correct word. How she made a connection to her mother is a mystery.

Because she was up earlier than usual, we had a little time before we needed to leave for lunch. I decided to make use of the time by showing her pictures of her family. We began in the hallway outside our bedroom where we stopped to look at those of her grandmother and mother. I tell her the same stories each time. She is always surprised and interested. She almost always guesses that the picture of her mother is her own photo. That is not something limited to this particular picture but others that we see in her various family photo books.

As I talked about her mother, she became very emotional. She was, as usual, struck by her mother’s smile and her eyes. Despite her interest, I gave her more information than she could take in and said she thought we should move on. Then she did something I have not seen her do before. She said goodbye, touched her fingers to her lips, and placed them on her mother’s face. Her feelings for her mother are even more intense now than ever. I got the sense that she thought we were in her family’s home in Fort Worth. I guess she was thinking that we were leaving to return to Knoxville. She wanted to take the picture with us. I was about to tell her she could when she said, “Maybe this is a better place for it.” I agreed.

We still had another thirty minutes before we needed to leave, so I brought her to the family room where we looked at a photo of our daughter’s twins when they were six or seven. I suggested we sit on the sofa where I could show her the photo book of her mother’s family. She was immediately taken by it and was very emotional as I told her the names and read her the text that accompanied the photos. We didn’t get further than a few pages because she was getting too much information, and it was close to time for us to leave. She said something she has said a number of times before. As I was reading the text, she asked me to write this down so that she could have it for the album that she wants to make. It always seems strange to me that she wants me to write it down when it is already so nicely summarized in her books. Of course, I am looking at this as someone who does not have dementia.

Before leaving for lunch, she thanked me for bringing her here and commented on the many experiences we had had in this place. I am making this sound more straightforward than it really was. She couldn’t find the words she wanted. I guessed what she was trying to say, and she agreed with my interpretation.

Her emotions were obvious in several other ways at the house and the restaurant. I gave her a little mouthwash but didn’t tell her not to swallow it. I think this was a first for me, and, usually, she is insulted when I tell her. This time she swallowed it. Fortunately, it was not Listerine. She doesn’t like that and would have reacted strongly. This was a Colgate product that does not contain alcohol, so it didn’t bother her at all. When she swallowed it, I reflexively told her she shouldn’t do that. She responded emotionally with tears. This time because she had done something wrong. As with other things, she is also mindful of and very sensitive about doing the right thing. I think that is what is behind all of her questions when we are eating out. She doesn’t like to make mistakes but knows she makes a lot of them.

When we arrived at the restaurant, our server rushed over to give her a big hug. Kate was overcome with emotion and was teary all the way to the table. As we talked during our meal and in the car on the way home, she had teary moments as we talked about our marriage and children. In keeping with her growing insecurity, she expresses her expressions of appreciation for helping her. There is no question but what she recognizes she needs help and that I am the primary person who provides it.

She surprised me after lunch. She didn’t say anything about wanting to rest. She sat down with her iPad and started working jigsaw puzzles. She did need occasional help, but she worked three and a half hours without a break. She still showed no sign of wanting to rest. It was a high energy day which is very unusual. The battery on her iPad was exhausted before time for bed.

She was very talkative during and after dinner although I could not understand everything she said. In fact, I understood very little. When we adjourned to our bedroom for the day, she worked on her iPad, but her mind was on something else. The night before and last night at dinner it was clear that she thought we were having company at the house. It sounded like a big event. She had asked me if I had taken any pictures of the people the night before. I told her I would get them later. Last night she wanted to know if I had the camera ready. After a while, she asked if I had taken a picture of her. I told her I hadn’t but would be glad to do that “right now.” I picked up my phone and took it.

The one thing I could understand was her strong sense of insecurity as expressed in her exaggerated words of appreciation for me. I don’t ever recall a day in which she so frequently thanked me and expressed her feelings for me. At no time during the day did she act in the least way irritated with me.

All of her behaviors are indicative of how much she has changed over the past few weeks or months. Despite recognizing this change, I felt good about the day. She was unusually happy, and I was able to deal with her moments of insecurity. I find that I tend to be sad as I look to the future. “In the moment” I almost always feel good. The hardest thing for me to deal with is her moments of anxiety. Fortunately, they don’t occur often and are short-lived.

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