Kate and I had just returned from a late Christmas lunch around 4:30. We went to the family room, and Kate asked what she could do. I told her I could read something to her or she might like to look at one of her family photo books. She was unsure. I picked up a photo book of her father’s family and suggested we go through it together. I handed it to her and let her look for a few minutes while I brushed my teeth.
When I returned, she was looking at the first page. She told me she didn’t know anything. I told her I would help her. For about ten minutes we went through a few pages with my commentary on the people and places. She said she was interested but this was too much for her. She couldn’t absorb or remember anything. I suggested that it might be a good time for her to take a break and just rest. She said, “Let’s just do a couple of pages.” I agreed, but she stopped me again to say it was too much. This time she accepted my suggestion to rest. We closed the book and began an interesting and touching conversation that I was able to record. I have transcribed the beginning portion below.
Richard: So you don’t remember anything right now.
Kate: No. <pause> No. I don’t.
Richard: Do you remember anything about your mother?
Richard: What about your daddy?
Kate: You know, right now, I just can’t even (Trails off) This is so much to remember. It’s just too much right now.
Richard: You know what you do remember though, I think? You can tell me if I’m wrong. You remember that you liked your mother very much. Do you remember that?
Richard: You don’t?
Kate: But that would be wonderful thing.
Richard Do you remember what a nice and great woman she was?
Kate: I don’t know much about her. I hardly know anything about her. I know I’ve been told, but I <slight pause> I mean, I must have, must have, but I have no (Trails off)
Richard: No memory.
Kate: This is why I don’t want to go too fast, and I’d rather just go (Trails off)
Richard: We don’t have to hurry at all. There is no reason to rush.
Kate: Well, see, uh, that’s, that’s good.
Richard: There are a couple of things I’d like you to know from me.
Kate: All right. If I could tell you, I will.
Richard: No, I just want to tell you something, and it’s the way I, it’s something I feel. One is that I love you very much.
Kate: I love you too.
Richard: Second is I want you to know you can depend on me.
Kate: I think so too.
Richard: I will help you with anything you need – anytime, and I believe that you know that I will.
Kate: Oh, I know. Definitely.
Richard: We’ve always cared for each other.
Kate: Yes, we have.
Richard: And we always will.
Kate: That’s right too.
Richard: You know, it takes us back to our wedding vows, doesn’t it? We said we would always stick together. For better or for worse.
Kate: And we have.
Richard: And, fortunately, its been mostly, almost entirely, the better for us. Hasn’t it? Haven’t we been fortunate?
Kate: Oh, yes, yes, yes. I don’t remember much of it, but, you know, I’ve never had an anybody that . . . No <pause> no problems, they were all. I mean I don’t remember in (Trails off)
Richard: You’re right. We just have had good times. We enjoyed the places we have lived. We enjoyed the people we’ve met. We’ve enjoyed our experiences in our work and going to school. You know, one of the things you enjoyed most was being a church librarian. It was one of the most fulfilling things (for you), and, you know, you did a good job. You helped so many. . . You’ve led a fulfilling life.