This Thanksgiving I feel grateful for many things, but at the top of the list are all the special moments that Kate and I continue to share. That doesn’t mean everything is the way I would like. Kate’s day of obsessive talking last week was an unwelcomed disruption in a string of three good weeks. As noted in other posts, times like that makes me wonder if we are in for more of the same in the future. I won’t have an answer to that for a while, but I am thankful that each day since has been much better. I am particularly happy that our evenings after the caregiver is gone are almost always special.
What makes them special is that Kate is more relaxed. In fact, we’re both more relaxed. Most people who have had an opportunity to be with her in the last year or so would have difficulty imagining how natural she sounds. Only her delusions and aphasia prevent my understanding everything that she says. Apart from that, our conversations are like those we had before Alzheimer’s entered our lives.
I might even describe our evenings as romantic. It’s not like we were newlyweds, but we’re able to express our love for each other in a way that is just as meaningful. Touch has become much more important to Kate at this stage of her Alzheimer’s. She often reaches for my hand and runs her fingers up and down between my fingers. She also likes to run her fingers over the palm of my hand and along my forearm. Evenings like this are even more special at the end of a day when we have experienced more troublesome moments.
But it’s not just our evenings that are special. During any given day there are bright spots. One of those occurred last night after we returned from dinner. We had almost an hour and a half before the caregiver was to leave. Normally, we might sit out on the balcony for a while, but it was a little too chilly for us. We stayed inside, and we had just put up our Christmas decorations. I decided we needed some Christmas music and played a large portion of Handel’s Messiah. It holds a special place in our lives. Sixty-years ago next month, we went to a performance of it on our first date.
Kate was in a good mood and talkative but not obsessively so. As the music played in the background, Kate and I talked for almost an hour. Although what she said was filled with delusions, she asked me questions and answered my questions. Like some other conversations we have, they involved something that Kate was planning and wanted my help making decisions. We both expressed our opinions. Through it all, she was very calm, never agitated. She just wanted to be careful about what she was planning and wanted my thoughts.
I suspect this doesn’t seem special to most people, but to me it was. The difference, of course, is that I see it in a context that is different from those who are not living with Alzheimer’s. One of the things that those of us caring for spouses miss the most is conversations with our loved ones; therefore, I treasure them whenever they occur. Such moments don’t happen every day, but I am grateful that they are far from rare.
There is no denying that Kate is able to do far less now than at any time since her diagnosis almost eleven years ago. She lives in a world that is much smaller now, but I am grateful that she can still enjoy life and am optimistic that we will continue to enjoy life and each other for some time to come.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.