Do We Have Any Moments When We’re Not Happy?

I talk a lot about the Happy Moments that Kate and I have but try to convey that they don’t occur all the time. It would be fair for you to ask what our lives are like the rest of the time. Do we have Bad Moments? Here’s my answer.

Our Bad Moments are rare. They include getting Kate’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, her hospitalization for Covid, the first few weeks after her return from the hospital, her stroke, and the first few weeks after that. Apart from those, I wouldn’t call any of our time together Bad Moments.

Sad moments are another thing. I can’t tell if Kate has any of them. I know that I do. Sometimes they occur when we are getting her ready in the morning and into bed at night. Although she has adapted very well, they always involve things that she doesn’t like. Nobody would like to live their lives so dependent on others. This will continue for the rest of her life, and I feel sad for her.

At this late stage of Kate’s Alzheimer’s, I also experience sad moments when I think about losing her. Although we can’t do most of the things we used to do, she is happy a good bit of the time. That keeps me happy, and I’m not ready to let her go. I want to keep her as long as I possibly can.

Most of our days are filled with Neutral, Pleasant, and Happy Moments. Here is a short rundown of a typical day for us.

I get up between 4:30 and 5:00 five days a week when I go downstairs to our wellness center where I work out for fifty minutes on the seated elliptical. I go early because I can be pretty sure that she is still asleep and won’t need anything.

When I return, I change clothes and have breakfast before checking email, preparing Kate’s morning medicine and juice, and doing a variety of other daily chores. Sometimes, like today, I work on a new blog post. Periodically, I check Twitter and upload a new message related to Kate. The days vary, but I have other household responsibilities like washing and putting away dishes or laundry, watering plants, or paying bills. Other times, I order supplies like gloves, wipes, and other items used by Kate’s caregivers.

Kate usually sleeps until 10:30 or 11:00. During the past year, she has begun to wake earlier. This is usually a neutral time. She almost never speaks or smiles and normally goes back to sleep after her morning meds.

Sometimes she remains asleep until the caregiver arrives at 11:00. Other times, she vacillates between being asleep and awake. That happened this morning. I was in bed beside her when she opened her eyes, smiled, and spoke a few words. I couldn’t understand them, but just hearing her makes me happy. Shortly after that, she was resting again. This time can last as long as several hours, sometimes until I return from lunch.

Once in a while, Kate is cheerful when she wakes up. When that happens, I take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with her. After getting her meds and something to drink, I often get in bed beside her. These are usually Pleasant Moments. It is rare for us to have any conversation. Kate’s not ready for that, but I enjoy being with her. It’s a pleasant time for us. While she goes in and out of sleep, I work on my laptop. On some mornings, she is cheerful and talkative. Those are Happy Moments.

I leave for lunch while the caregiver feeds Kate. I don’t know for sure what happens while I am gone. I do know that the caregiver who is with her Monday through Friday sits beside her the entire time I’m away. I also know that Kate feels comfortable with her and occasionally talks with her.

When I return, we usually have a period of Neutral Moments. She is almost always resting
in her recliner with her eyes closed. I go directly to her and tell her how glad I am to see her. In the past, she hasn’t shown any emotion at all; however, more recently she has responded with a smile when she hears my voice. As I reported in an earlier post, recently she was quite excited when I returned home. That was obviously a Happy Moment for both of us.

Between then and the time we leave for ice cream, I spend most of my time with her but take breaks to check email, call friends on the phone, and do any other chores that need my attention. This time is usually filled with Pleasant Moments. I enjoy these moments. They are just not as upbeat as our Happy Moments.

Our ice cream and dinner times are always Pleasant Moments. Kate likes her ice cream and usually smiles off and on while we are out. Some of the residents and staff stop by our table to talk briefly. They always greet her warmly. Although she rarely speaks to them, she seems to pay attention to what is said and often smiles at specific things that they say. Sometimes she is especially cheerful and talkative. Those are definitely Happy Moments.

Our evenings are almost always filled with Happy Moments, but they are somewhat different from those occurring earlier in the day. All of our obligations of the day are over, and both of us are relaxed. We simply focus on being together. The combination of Alzheimer’s and aphasia limits Kate’s speech. Despite that, she communicates a lot with her facial expressions and her hands. It is a romantic time for both of us. I often tell her about our children and grandchildren as well as many experiences we have had during our marriage while she smiles and holds my hand and runs her hand gently across mine.

Before going to sleep, I say, “Thank you for a very nice day. Did you know that every day I spend with you is a nice day?” She sometimes smiles. Then I say, “I love you, Kate. I always have. I always will. Forever, and ever, and ever.” She almost never says, “I love you”, but once last week, she puckered her lips and blew me a kiss. That was another Happy Moment. She doesn’t need words to express her affection for me.