A Very Special Father’s Day

I would never have guessed that right after my previous post about “Very Happy Special Moments I would be treated to the best Father’s Day present I could want. Kate had a truly fantastic day. It began before 8:00 in the morning and continued until she dosed off to sleep around 8:30 last night.

She was not only cheerful but very talkative. As I often do at times like this, I got in bed with her, and we talked almost constantly over a period of three hours. Of course, her aphasia prevented my understanding what she was saying, but I played the role of facilitator saying things like “Really?” “That’s interesting.” “Tell me more about that.” “I love talking with you.”

Her only downtime was while I was at lunch. The caregiver didn’t give her the same attention, and she was quiet when I arrived. The good news is that she recovered when I knelt down beside her recliner and told her how happy I was to see her.

I should add that she was not agitated. She was simply talkative, and I enjoyed every minute with her. It had been a day filled with Happy Moments. A Father’s Day to remember.

Very Special Happy Moments

I know it can’t last forever. That’s why I continue to celebrate Happy Moments with Kate. For months, these have occurred at least sometime during every day. Some are more special than others. One of those occurred yesterday when I returned home after lunch.

I can’t predict her behavior, but for quite a while, she has greeted me with a smile at least half of the time. She is always in her recliner with her back to the door. As I open it I say, “Hello, I’m home.” Then I say, “I’m looking for Kate. Where is she?” I approach her recliner, and say, “There she is.” I kneel beside the recliner and tell her how happy I am to see her. If she is smiling, I tell her how much I like her smile and that it makes me happy.

Yesterday, she smiled and laughed just like a child might do when a parent returns. I also responded enthusiastically, and we enjoyed a few moments before I suggested we find some music that we could sing together. I turned on a “Sing Along with Seniors” YouTube video.

For the next 20-30 minutes, we sang old songs like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, “Oh, Susanna”, and “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain”. She was fully engaged, smiling, and mouthing the words. She was doing so well that I suggested to her caregiver that we go for ice cream earlier than usual. That turned out to be a good idea. She continued her cheerful mood, smiling and responding audibly to several people who spoke to her.

Moments like these make my day, and I am grateful to have so many of them. Occasionally, I’m asked what keeps me going. There are many things, but none of them compares to the Happy Moments we share at this stage of her Alzheimer’s. It will be a sad day when they are gone.

Our Anniversary Celebration

One of the things I’ve learned about “Living with Alzheimer’s” is that people’s experiences can be quite different; however, there is at least one thing that all or most dementia caregivers experience: unpredictability. One minute Kate is smiling cheerfully. The next she is withdrawn.

Because of that, I am never sure how she will react to a situation in which I would love for her to smile or just hear her say a word or two. With that in mind, I prepared something special for our 60th anniversary last week. I decided to take her out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Casa Bella. We hadn’t been there since November 2020. In fact, we hadn’t been out anywhere in more than two and a half years. Kate was beginning to lose her mobility before that, and she was in bed for so long with Covid that she completely lost it. Since then we have only been able to move her with a lift to get her in and out of her bed and into her wheelchair. Thus, going out to eat requires a vehicle that is wheelchair accessible.

Getting transportation was easy. I simply called the agency that provides in-home care for our retirement community, but I had other concerns as well. I didn’t want to put her in a crowded restaurant, so I made reservations for Tuesday night after Memorial Day when I thought it was less likely to be busy than later in the week. I called the owner of the restaurant and made reservations for 5:00 pm. That’s when they open for dinner. At the same time, I arranged a table in the room where we had often eaten in the past. I also asked our caregiver to stay an hour or two later than usual.

The only remaining concern I had was Kate’s mood. I wanted the experience to be as joyful as it had been on our previous visits there, but I knew there was no way to predict how she would feel or react. Nor was there any way I could ensure that she was in a cheerful mood. As it turned out, everything worked out beautifully.

The day began on a positive note. Kate slept late that morning. She was still asleep when the caregiver arrived at 11:00. I was happy about that because she is sometimes worn out later in the day after waking early.

When I arrived home from lunch, she was resting in her recliner as usual. She smiled when I approached her. I spoke to her for a few minutes letting her know how happy I was to see her. I turned on some “Sing-Along-for-Seniors” music on YouTube. She responded well to that. I sang, but she didn’t. Nonetheless, her smiles and facial expressions showed that she was enjoying herself.

We also had a good experience when we went out for ice cream. She smiled much of that time and responded a little to those who spoke to her – at least more than she usually does. Then we came back to the apartment where we met the driver who would take us to dinner.

We arrived as they opened right at 5:00 pm. The owners were not there, but they had prepared the staff for our arrival. They greeted us warmly and got us settled at our table. Kate and I as well as our caregiver (who had never been there before) enjoyed every minute.

Not long after we were seated, the owner arrived and came directly to our table. We had a nice visit with her. Although I can’t remember what she said, I was pleased that Kate responded audibly to something she said. A little later, her husband also dropped by to say hello. We had a good dinner, but the real enjoyment was being back in a place where we had eaten many meals over a period of fifty years. The bonus was that Kate enjoyed herself the entire time. That made for a very special sixtieth anniversary. I could not have predicted that the day would go so well. I’m already thinking about the possibility of doing this again.