Another Social Experience

Kate and I are in Nashville today where we plan to meet our friend, Ellen, who is in a memory facility here. Because Kate sleeps so late in the morning, we came yesterday afternoon to have dinner and spend the night before our visit this afternoon. I have found that works better than rushing her in the morning so that we can make it a day trip.

For the second time in two weeks, I had arranged to meet another Twitter friend, Joan, who lives on the east side of Nashville. We met at a Cracker Barrel about 3:15 and chatted for a little over an hour before going to our hotel. I am glad to say this was another social situation in which Kate was quite at ease and talkative. It was as though she had been yearning to talk with someone and found a good listener. Once she started, it was hard for her to stop. It was good to see her so engaged in conversation.

As I reflect, I think there were several things that made our meeting such a success. First, there was just one other person with us. That meant there was no distracting conversation that can occur when there are four or more people. Second, the way we were seated lent itself to more conversation between Kate and my friend. When we took our seats, I deliberately put Kate directly across the table from Joan. I sat beside Kate. Third, Joan is a very warm, friendly person. She immediately gave her attention to Kate who became a key person in the conversation. Fourth, one of the good things about initial meetings like this one is that people discover things they have in common. It wasn’t long before we learned that Joan had been a librarian. That opened the door for Kate to talk about her own experience in the field.

Since Joan and I have been Twitter friends, I would have enjoyed talking more with her about her own experience as a caregiver as well as her blog. I was glad, however, to let that go in order for Kate to have such a good experience.

There were a couple of other things worth noting. One is how well Kate was able to communicate without having a memory to draw on. Of course, that means that some of the things she said weren’t really true. For the most part, Joan probably didn’t notice though I did. Much of the conversation didn’t require much in the way facts. Kate could talk about her feelings for her work and her family.

The other thing is that Kate’s Texas pride has increased substantially in the past few years. As we were walking out, someone overhead Joan’s voice and asked where she was from. When she said, “Nashville,” the man told her she didn’t sound like it. Then she said she was originally from Long Island. That began a somewhat more extended conversation between the two of them. While they were talking, Kate tried to interrupt them to ask the man to guess where she was from. It was very much like what a child might do. I got her to hold back for a minute. When she finally asked her question, he said, “Where?” She couldn’t remember. I was standing behind her and whispered, “Fort Worth, Texas.” She repeated it in perfect timing. He might not have noticed her slip.

I was very glad that we stopped to meet Joan. My own purpose was to meet face to face with a woman I had known only through brief tweets. The bonus, like our meeting two weeks ago, was seeing how much Kate enjoyed herself.

Another Bedtime Conversation: An Example of Kate’s Intuitive Thought/Ability

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the challenges that Kate faces in some types of conversations. I also noted that we converse about as much as we did before Alzheimer’s. I failed to say that until I took her off of Trazadone a year ago, she didn’t talk much. Most mealtimes we hardly spoke at all. Looking back, I think she may have been taking a higher dose than she needed. She was very sleepy. I am glad to say that is no longer an issue. We do have conversations, and some of those are unlike anything I could have imagined. Night before last we had one of those.

As usual, Kate was still awake when I got into bed. I moved over close to her and commented on what a nice day it had been. I told her I loved her. She said, “I like you. I even think I love you.” She went on to say that she was not ready to marry me. From there, she took us in a very different direction.

She talked about a “project” that she was thinking about. She never got specific, but she wanted to do something for people who have chronic financial problems. She expressed a desire to recruit a large number of people who could join together to address these issues. She wanted me to work with her. I told her I would. As with other conversations, she was very repetitive. She would circle back around and say the same things she had said earlier. She was confident with the two of us working together we could make a difference in people’s lives.

This conversation was another good illustration that her feelings are working. She can’t remember any facts, but she retains a sense that there are people with many needs. Her heart goes out to them. This particular idea about initiating a project to help people in need is just one example of that. It is also apparent when she talks about her mother, she invariably talks about her mother’s kindness to others and her desire to “help people.” Her mother was indeed kind, but I view this mostly as an expression of Kate’s personal feelings about relating to other people. It is also evident in the way she interacts with strangers. She is a caring person. This is not something new, but it is more pronounced now than in the past. It is certainly a more positive symptom of Alzheimer’s than one usually imagines.

Kate and Conversation

Like other caregivers I know, I often miss the kind of conversations Kate and I used to have. Much of our ordinary conversation requires remembering things she can no longer retain in her memory. All is not lost, however. Caregivers learn to talk about things that their loved ones can also talk about. On an average day, I’m not sure that Kate and I talk any less than we did before Alzheimer’s, but the content of those conversations is different and repetitive. We are both happy with this approach.

Social situations can be very difficult for people with dementia. I wish I could fully understand what’s going on in Kate’s head when we are in large groups. I know it can be very confusing for her. Saturday we attended an 80th birthday party of a man who had been a close friend of my dad’s. There was a large crowd, and we knew only three people besides Dad’s friend. It was wall-to-wall people. She sat in a chair and was mostly silent the hour or so we were there. Withdrawing is one way to handle situations like this. I stood by her the whole time to prevent her being anxious.

My brother, Larry came over for the birthday party. We had planned to go out to dinner with him, but the weather kept us inside that night. We ordered a pizza and ate right here at home. I can’t remember the last time we had done that. I would say at least six or seven years.

We hadn’t seen Larry in quite a while. He and I immediately entered into a conversation that wasn’t of interest to Kate. She worked on her iPad until we ate dinner. I felt bad about that. Fortunately, the conversation took a different turn over pizza. Larry has a farm and brought some fresh blueberries for Kate. That led to a conversation in which he pulled out his phone and showed us pictures of his blueberry and raspberry plants as well as his asparagus. At first, I thought this might not be of interest to Kate, but she seem quite interested. She even asked questions that got Larry talking more about the farm. Again, I felt Kate’s interest might be short-lived, but she seemed quite engaged. I know it was impossible for her to follow everything he said, but she didn’t tune out. It turned out to be a good experience. My own view is that she was an important part of the conversation. She wasn’t being overlooked the way she had been before dinner. I let the two of them talk together while I cleaned up the dishes. I was happy to see her enjoying herself.

Yesterday morning, Larry, who had spent the night at a hotel, came back to the house around 9:45. That gave us some time to catch up on a variety of things that would have been of little interest to Kate. She slept until almost 11:00. Then the three of went to lunch. Everything went well until the end of our meal. As we were talking, Kate got confused over some of the things Larry talked about. At times, I tried to interject and explain. It was a time when it appeared that she really wanted to understand but couldn’t, and her confusion escalated. I feel reasonably sure that at that point in the conversation she didn’t know that Larry was my brother. She asked him directly, “Who are you?” I explained that he is my brother. She asked him his name, and he told her. I can’t remember, but she may have asked mine as well. She must have because I remember her asking my last name. She didn’t realize that I had the same last name as Larry. (That is not unusual. It is typical. This happens all the time when we are going through her family photo albums.) The server dropped by the table. She and Larry talked a bit. Kate pointed to Larry and asked me who he was. When I told her he was my brother Larry, she said, “What’s his last name?” When I told her, she burst out laughing. The server asked what was funny. Kate said, “His last name is Creighton.” She said this as though it was a silly name. Then, looking at the people at the table across from us, she said something about his name. I don’t remember what she said.

Despite her laughter, Kate was irritated with my brother. I can’t explain it. I have a hunch that she somehow felt like an outsider to our conversation. She was rather abrupt with him and made some reference to the way the two of us (Larry and me) act when we are together. She was not in a good humor as we made our way to the door. When we got outside, she immediately apologized to Larry and said something like, “You’ll have to forgive me. I’m trying to not to be this way.” It was as though she were carrying a grudge from the past. I don’t understand.

When we got in the car, she told me she didn’t want to talk. I told her I would turn on some music that she would like. I didn’t say a word until we got home. When we were a few blocks away, I reached over and squeezed her hand and held it a moment or two. She squeezed back and smiled at me. She was herself again.

This was the first time I’ve seen her respond this way with anyone. It wasn’t just a momentary reflex. She was bothered over a period of minutes. She was obviously offended. My best guess is that Larry and I drifted into a conversation that was of greater interest to us, and Kate felt excluded. This will make me more sensitive about conversations in the future. I don’t want Kate to feel this way again.

Bedtime Conversation

I am glad to report that the rest of our day yesterday went well. It was a good day. Once again, I want to underscore that did not mean any improvement in Kate’s memory or her confusion. In fact, the past few days she seems to be worse. I say it was good because she was happy and that we enjoyed ourselves.

Throughout the day she couldn’t remember my name and our relationship. Neither could she remember her own name. The difference from the morning was her not showing any signs of being frightened. When she wanted to know my name or hers, she asked as naturally as one might say, “Would you pass the butter, please?” The day ended in a conversation that was just that natural.

Kate got in bed about thirty minutes before me. The past few months I’ve been playing a variety of soft music while we go to sleep. Most of the time I play instrumental music. Last night I put on an old Nat King Cole album. When I got in bed, she said, “I like that. Who’s singing?” I told her. She asked, “What do you want me to do in the morning?” I said, “Well, we’re having lunch with a couple we know from Casa Bella’s music nights. We’re supposed to meet them at noon. I’ll probably get you up around 10:00 so that you will have time to shower and dress.” She said, “Who’s that singing?” I told her again. She said, “Tell me exactly what we’re going to do tomorrow.” This time I repeated what I had said before but added that we might drop by to see a friend who just returned home from the hospital and rehab and then come back to the house until time for dinner. She said, “Who’s singing?” I told her again. She said, “Tell me what we’re going to do tomorrow. Again, I repeated myself. She said, “Who’s that singing?” I said, “Nat King Cole. That’s one of our oldest albums (now streaming from Amazon rather than the original LP), and we’ve been together a long time.” She said, “How long?” I said, “Fifty-six years, and I still love you.” She said, “I love you too.” I said, “We have a lot to be grateful for.” She said, “Like what?” I said, “Well, we have two children that we’re very proud of.” She said, “We have children? Are we married?” I said, “Yes, we’re married and have two children.” She said, “What’s your name?” I told her. Then she asked her name.

We went through two or three more rounds of these questions and answers before Kate said, “I’m going to sleep now.” I told her I was going to do the same. It wasn’t long before we were both asleep. I know I was.

The Challenges of Conversation

Kate has always been adept at handling conversations in ordinary social situations even though she is a bit introverted. Her mother was very gifted in the same way. In addition, she grew up in a large family, many of whom lived in the same town and went to the same church. Her life was filled with many experiences that enabled her to develop her conversational skills.

The skills she developed over the years served her well when Alzheimer’s entered the picture. She was able to get along quite well without feeling insecure or revealing her Alzheimer’s to other people. That has gradually changed over the years. She is now handicapped in three ways. First, the loss of memory deprives her of a significant amount of information that is useful in conversation. Think a moment. When you bump into a friend or acquaintance, you are usually able to call them by name or remember the connection you had with that person (someone you worked with, played bridge with, was a member of your same book club, etc.). You probably remember if that person is married, has children, has a particular interest, and many more bits of information. When Kate encounters someone, she has none of those things to go on.

The second deficit she has is that she has difficulty understanding the conversations in which she finds herself. That leaves her unable to follow up on something the other people have said. These days her participation is heavily oriented to questions that ask who or what is being talked about and asking for explanations of the content or specific words. Her vocabulary has decreased significantly. That has to add another measure of confusion.

Third, dementia makes it harder for a person to process information. It is never easy to understand what is said, but it is especially difficult given the normal speed with which people speak. While Kate is trying to process the first bit of information someone is saying, the other person is already on to the second, third, fourth, or fifth bit of information. It is simply overwhelming. In restaurants where Kate experiences most conversations, there are also many distractions that occur simultaneously. The noise level itself can present a problem understanding what others in your party are saying. Sometimes a serving tray overturns or the server comes to the table to take your order. All these things make it hard for Kate and others with dementia to process information.

I’m thinking of these things because Kate and I had dinner the other night with a couple we know from our music nights at Casa Bella. Apart from sitting with them at Casa Bella, we have eaten out with them at least six or eight times in the past eight months. Two of those times were overnight trips to Flat Rock, NC, where we had dinner and attended a show at the Playhouse. She cannot remember them at all. I’ve never seen any sign that she recognizes them – even intuitively.

That night we went to a new restaurant and had an excellent meal. The other couple and I are the talkers. The restaurant was very noisy, and we sat near a server’s station where they dropped dirty dishes on top of one another. Kate hardly spoke during the entire evening. I believe the only words she spoke were questions regarding the menu or for clarification about something that was said. We ordered a cheese and hors d’oeuvres platter. Her vision problem prevented her being able to identify some things. Kate and I shared a large platter of paella for our entrée. She liked it but said nothing about it. I worried about how she was getting along, but there was simply no way to make the situation much easier for her. When I asked how she enjoyed the evening after we left, she said it was a nice evening. By that time, I’m not sure she could even remember what it had been like.

That is just one of a few other similar occasions with friends. It is just one more marker on this journey. I am grateful that she has gotten along so well in the past, but I don’t like the direction in which we are moving. In addition, it feels like the changes are coming more quickly now.

This afternoon we are visiting our longtime friends Tom and Angie Robinson in Nashville. I will be eager to see how that goes.

Lunch Conversation

During our lunch yesterday, Kate asked my name and then hers. She picked up the last name we have in common. Then I said, “Now, do you know how we are related?” (That’s something I don’t do very often. I never want to disturb her when she can’t answer, but she almost always engages in these conversations without any concern at all about not remembering.) This time she said, “Tell me.” When I did, she looked startled and said, “Excuse me?” I said, “That’s right. I’m your husband. You look puzzled.” I don’t recall exactly what she said. Here is what she was trying to say. “I was trying to think of the words I wanted to say but couldn’t. They are words I shouldn’t say.” She wasn’t clear, but I believe she was trying to say she was so surprised that she wanted to use profanity but couldn’t remember the words. I said, “Your surprised.” She said, “Don’t you think I should be surprised if we are married and I couldn’t remember?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “See, I’m smart.” I said, “I know you are. You are very perceptive and insightful.” She didn’t care for my translation and said, “I would say I’m smart.”

This was one of those times when she simultaneously shows that her memory is gone along with an intuitive sense about the situation. Her intuitive abilities permit her to see some things while her memory continues to fail.

A Great Day

It seems like it’s been a while since I reported on having a great day. I’m really happy to report that we had one of those yesterday. It was a day of simple pleasures, but Kate was in a particularly good mood. She was happy and talkative. The only rough spot we had was when she got up. The first thing she said was “I want to get out of here.” I explained that we were at home and got her to look out the window to the back yard. She remembered it but said again that she wanted “to get out of here.”

Apart from that she got dressed, and she seemed to have forgotten about her eagerness to leave. In fact, she was ready to leave earlier than I wanted as the restaurant where we were having lunch doesn’t open until 11:30. I stalled a little bit. She waited happily until I was ready.

We had a 1:30 appointment at Starbucks with a representative of TCU. He was in town meeting with alumni. By chance, I noticed him at Carla’s where we had lunch. He was wearing a TCU lapel pin. Kate was excited to meet someone from TCU, and we spoke briefly while he waited to see another graduate.

We went home. It was during that time that she spent time with her Mother’s Day cards that I mentioned in my previous post. She closed her eyes for about ten minutes. I feared it might be difficult for her to get up when it was time to leave, but she got up quickly.

The day before I had sent the TCU rep an email letting him know about Kate’s Alzheimer’s. I didn’t want to depend on slipping him a card if she did or said something he might think strange. As it turned out, that was a good thing. As we talked, she forgot he was from TCU. Something came up about his job with the university. She was excited to learn (once again) that he worked there. He showed us pictures of his family and told us the names of his wife and three children. It wasn’t long after that when Kate asked his wife’s name again. That would probably gone unnoticed if she hadn’t asked his wife’s name three or four other times after that.

After I had ordered drinks for Kate and me, she whispered in my ear “How am I related to you?” I said, “I am your husband.” She said, “I was hoping you would say that.” During our meeting, she was very talkative and, for the most part, what she said was accurate. I believe it was knowing his connection to TCU that sparked her enthusiasm. We chatted for an hour, and I believe she talked at least as much as I did. I think she may have talked more. I deliberately held back a number of times to let her say what she had on her mind. I love seeing her when she is so enthusiastic.

She remained cheerful the balance of the day. She has seemed more childlike in the past few days. That was definitely so yesterday. That is sad as I know that is another sign of change. On the other hand, it is good to see her happy.

She commented on death a couple of times yesterday. One occurred as we walked from the car to the hair salon where she got a shampoo. I don’t remember what she said, but it started with “When I’m gone, I want you to . . .” I think I was so taken by the way she said it that I blanked on what she wanted me to do. During our meeting with the TCU rep, she said, “We all have to die. We might as well accept that.” It didn’t seem to fit in context with what we were talking about. I believe I may be overly sensitive about her recognition that something is wrong with her. When she talks about death, it makes me wonder if that is prompted by that recognition. Since she can’t remember things for very long, I doubt it. At the same time, her intuitive abilities are still sharp. Maybe she subconsciously senses she will go before me.

After dinner, we watched a YouTube video of a PROMS concert of music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. It was a good way to finish a very good day.

I hope today will be as good. She was up at 2:00 this morning and seemed rather clear-headed for that time of morning. She even called me by name a couple of times. As I walked her back to bed, she said, “Thank you. I really appreciate all that you do for me.” I said, “I do it because I love you. We’re a team. We always will be.” She agreed and said, “We’ll get through this.” That is something she says periodically. On several occasions, I have asked her what she meant. She said, “You know.” But I don’t. Could it mean her Alzheimer’s?

More Confusion and Confusion

Shortly after midnight last night, Kate and I had what was almost a replay of a conversation we had yesterday morning. I had gotten up to go to the bathroom. When I got back in bed, I noticed that she was awake. She said, “Where are we?” That began another conversation that lasted until 1:35. She said she didn’t know anything. As I had done the night before, I said, “That must be scary.” She said, “Very.” From there I gave her my name and hers and our relationship. I followed that by lots of the same family information I had given the last time.

Several times she said, “I don’t understand why this is happening.” I told her I didn’t either but that it had happened other times and that she improved as we talked about our lives and family. This conversation was unusual in that she was able to grasp the change in her memory (or the way she felt) as I fed her information. At one point, I asked if I was overwhelming her. She said, “No, I can tell it’s helping.” She suggested that she was remembering a few things and that made her optimistic that her memory would come back. It’s been close to a year since she had her first experience like this.

At that time, it brought about a more intense emotional response. I described it as a “panic” or “anxiety” attack. This morning’s experience was not nearly as intense, but it had an element I had not heard since last summer. She made reference to her doctor’s telling her she might get better. She said the doctor also indicated that she might not. Nonetheless, she was encouraged last night. She also talked about the support she had received from friends. This time, however, she mentioned that her memory might not come back “all the way.” I told her no matter what I would be with her to help. We both said that whatever happens, we would deal with the situation, that we were good at adapting.

The conversation ended when she said, “I think I’ll go back to sleep now.” I asked if she felt relaxed. She said she did. The crisis was over. What is lingering in my mind now is that she seems to grasp that she has something that she won’t be able to conquer. She may improve, but the problem won’t go away. Once again, her intuitive thought processes are working. She doesn’t have a name for it or understand a way to beat it, but she knows something is wrong.

Just before 9:00 this morning, I saw on the video cam that she was starting to sit up in bed. I went to her. She smiled, and I walked over to the bed and sat down beside her. I was expecting that she would be back to normal again. She wasn’t. She was just as confused as she was earlier this morning. The difference was that she wasn’t in the mood to talk about what she was experiencing. She kept saying (not in rapid succession), “I don’t know what to do.” I asked if she would like to go to the bathroom. She asked why. I told her that she usually wanted to go to the bathroom when she woke up about this time. She repeated that she didn’t know what to do. I tried the same approach that had been successful in our two previous midnight conversations. She didn’t seem to pay attention. I think she was still tired and wanted to go back to sleep. I asked if she would like to see some pictures of her family. She didn’t, but I showed her a wedding photo of our daughter and brought in the “Big Sister” album to the the cover photo. She responded with a smile when she saw it, but she wasn’t ready to look at anything else. I asked if she wanted to rest a while longer. She nodded. I asked if she would like me to stay in the room with her. She did. That’s where I am right now. She opened her eyes a few minutes ago but is asleep again. We have a 12:30 reservation for lunch. I think I’ll let her sleep until 11:00 or 11:30 before waking her unless she gets up on her own.

I don’t like all the signs I have seen over the past week or two. This isn’t a change for the better.

Midnight and Early Morning Conversations

I’m always trying to guess what is going on his Kate’s head. Sometimes I think I have a pretty good idea. Many times, I don’t. Between midnight and 7:00 this morning we had two very different conversations. I don’t know what prompted the first one. I think I understand the second.

Just after midnight, I felt Kate move and looked over. She looked at me. Then she said, “I want you to know how much I love you.” I said, “And I love you too.” Then she said, “If I were to die today, I would . . .” She couldn’t think of the words she wanted to say. I said, “You would be grateful for all the time we had together.”  She said, “Yes, I love you so much.”

That began what must have been a 15-minute conversation in which each of us expressed how thankful we are that we found each other. It’s been a while, but she used to say, “What were the chances that a South Florida boy would end up with a Texas girl?” We often talk about the choice that each of us made to attend TCU. That decision made it possible.

At least three times in our brief conversation she repeated what she had said at the start. “I want you to know how much I love you.” and “If I were to die today . . .” Each time I filled in the last part of her sentence.

We talk about death once and a while. She often says, “We’re all going to die. It’s just part of life.” In all the other times, I knew why she was prompted to comment on dying. This time it came out of the blue. The only thing I know is that she is aware that something is wrong with her. She is having more experiences in which she is concerned about not knowing who she is, where she is, or what is going on. Was she having one of those experiences? It didn’t sound like it. She was talking to me as though she knew exactly who we are and was grateful. It does make me wonder, however, if the experiences of confusion she is having are beginning to make her think she might be dying. I don’t know, but I will be more conscious of any other signs that might suggest that.

I woke up at 5:45 and was about to get up when I heard a whimpering sound from Kate. I told her I was about to get up but wondered if she was all right. She said, “I don’t know. I don’t know where I am or why I am here.” I told her I could help her. She said, “I’m glad you’re here. I’m confused.” I said, “That must be scary.” She said it was. Then I said, “You are Kate Creighton.” She said, “Who are you?” I told her, and she repeated, “I’m glad you’re here.” I told her we had some photo books I could show her and that they would probably help her. She said, “Just talk to me,” and I did.

I put my arm around her and for the next hour told her about her parents, where she was born, our courtship, our marriage, and our children and grandchildren. At one point, I must have started to dose off. She said, “Keep talking.” At 6:50, she seemed relaxed. I said, “Are you all right. I was thinking about getting up.” She said, “I’m fine.” I got up, and she went back to sleep.

I hate for her to have these experiences, but I am glad that it is possible to comfort her when they happen. I really didn’t do much at all. I simply talked to her slowly in a comforting voice and gave her information that stimulated her intuitive thought processes. I am sure she didn’t remember any of it after I told her, but she felt safe and secure.

This is another good example of the intersection of rational and intuitive thought processes. She began the conversation with little or no rational knowledge but an intuitive sense that she should. My providing the knowledge didn’t change what she knows. It did change how she feels.

Mood and Conversation

In my previous post I commented on Kate’s less-than-cheerful mood and a change in her conversation. She just hasn’t been talkative lately. That changed yesterday. I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but I can’t. All I can tell you is a summary of what happened.

She was up about 7:30 and went to the bathroom. This was a day when she wanted to express her independence. She didn’t want my help. I walked her to the bathroom. Then I went back to the kitchen where I could watch on the video cam to see when she had finished. After a while, I hadn’t seen her and wondered if she had come out without my noticing. Then I heard the shower. I was happy about that since she was due for one. I also knew that she would want to return to bed afterwards. That would give me a little time to take care of a few things I needed to do. It wasn’t too long before she was in bed again.

From past experience, I knew that she could easily sleep another couple of hours, but I kept checking the video cam. (In case you wondered, my iPad with the video sits to the right of my computer.) At 10:45, she had shown no sign of getting up. I went back to wake her. When I approached the bed, I saw that she was awake and asked if she would like me to take her to lunch. She gave me a confused looked as though she wasn’t sure who I was.

When I sat down on the bed, I said, “I’d like to take you to lunch.” She said, “Where are my clothes?” I always put them on the chair about three feet from her side of the bed, but she can’t remember. I pointed and told her where they were. Then she said, “What do I do now?” I told her she should get dressed. As I helped her into a sitting position, I noticed that she looked frightened. She said, “I sure am glad to see you.” On one or two other occasions, she has been awake but didn’t get up because she didn’t know what to do or where she was. I quickly assumed (correctly) that was what happened this time. She was shaking as she talked. She said, “I didn’t know what to do.” Then I felt terrible for not checking on her earlier, something I will watch more carefully in the future. I apologized and told her how bad I felt. When I did that, she immediately tried to ease my guilt. She said, “Well, it’s going to be all right now? <pause> Isn’t it?” I nodded, but she wanted me to be more affirming and again said, “Isn’t it?” I assured her it was. She still appeared to be shaken by the experience.

Unlike her earlier desire to assert her independence, she wanted me to guide her through every step she needed to take to get ready. She was too emotional to think straight about everything she needed to do. On a normal day she has difficulty, but the emotional experience she had had exacerbated the problem. Several times she reiterated how scared she had been.

On the way to, during, and after lunch she was quite talkative. While we were eating, we had a conversation similar to one I reported on a couple of weeks ago. The first one involved Christopher Columbus. She asked who he was. I tried not to get into anything too overwhelming for her to understand. She asked questions about everything. That meant it did get too complicated for her, but she was still eager to know more. I had to repeat just about everything two or three times without her ever getting it, but she was interested anyway. Somehow the conversation drifted to food that was in the New World and introduced into the Old. I Googled a list of such items and read them to her. She was like a little child discovering something she had never thought about. She couldn’t believe they didn’t always have things like potatoes or corn in Europe before then.

The next topic was World War II. She started this one when she brought up the topic of discrimination. I mentioned the Holocaust and Hitler. We didn’t get too far on that one because she got too emotional. She was both interested and shocked. She is more emotional now and starts to cry at both happy and sad things she hears about.

We got home a short time before the sitter arrived. I didn’t tell Kate that Mary was coming. I just let her in. Kate welcomed her. I told her I was going out for while. She said, “We’ll be fine.” Once again, I left with a good feeling. When I returned, they were sitting in the family room talking happily.

After Mary left, we went to dinner. When we returned home, we sat down in the family room. Ordinarily, I would watch the news while she works on her iPad. She had been in such a good mood that I didn’t want to break it by watching the news. I turned on a Barbra Streisand album as Kate started to open her iPad. The first song I selected was “Send in the Clowns.” It has always been a favorite of hers. Instead of working a puzzle, she put the iPad down and just listened. Then I to selected a number of others that I knew or thought she would like. We sat there together for an hour just enjoying the music. She loved it. I did as well, but the real treat was sharing such a happy moment together. I feel fortunate that we can have moments like these, especially this late in her disease.