Dinner Conversation

Several times I’ve mentioned that Kate sometimes thinks I am her daddy. Usually, she asks, “Are you my daddy?” when she doesn’t remember who I am. On other occasions, she says something like, “Okay, Daddy. Whatever you say.” These words are less clear in their meaning. It could mean that she was teasing me when she thinks I am treating her like a child. Often I am left in doubt as to what she means.

Last night at dinner we had a conversation that illustrates how she can move seamlessly between understanding and not understanding. I can’t remember the exact words, but here’s my reconstruction of our conversation.

It started when she asked where we were. I told her we were in Knoxville where we had lived for forty-seven years. She said, “And I’ve never had a boyfriend.” I said, “I could be your boyfriend.” She said, “You’re my daddy.” Then she paused a moment to think and said, “I would say that any girl would be happy to have you as her boyfriend.” I thanked her for the compliment. Neither of us said anything for a minute or two. Then she asked asked where we were. Once again, I told her we were in Knoxville. This time I added, “And this is where our two children grew up. They were almost 3 and 1 when we moved here.” Sometimes she expresses surprise. Not this time. She just said, “What are their names?” From this point on we continued the conversation without any sign of her thinking I was her daddy. To me it was a good example of how easily her perceptions seemed to drift from one “reality” to another in such a short span of time.

A related example occurred when we had finished our meal. I asked if she wanted dessert. She said she was full and just couldn’t. I told her I felt the same way. Moments later the server approached the table and asked if we were ready for dessert. Kate said, “What do you have?” I knew then she had made a different decision, and, of course, I enjoyed the fudge brownie and ice cream with her. We’re living in the moment and loving it.

Happy Moments: Part 2

Shortly after I had explained to Kate that Karen is our daughter and Lee is her husband, she shifted her focus to our relationship. She was happy and said, “I am beginning to feel normal again.” I asked her to explain what she meant. She stumbled on her words, but said, “I am feeling at ease, and I attribute that to you.” She also thanked me “for bringing me here. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here.” She went on to say how much she appreciated my patience with her and how that helped her to feel relaxed. Over the next twenty minutes to our hotel, she continued to express that sentiment. In some of her comments, she noted how many things I do for her that she can’t do. I don’t think she was speaking specifically about things she couldn’t do because of Alzheimer’s, but that is the way it sounded.

When we got to the hotel, she said, “You are my best friend. I feel I can tell you anything. I trust you.” This was mixed with an extension of the conversation we had had in the car. She reiterated how relaxed she is with me. Twice she said, “I feel we just connect, and we haven’t known each other that long.” I started to tell her that I was her husband and that we have been married fifty-five years but decided not to say anything. At various points I thought she knew me as her husband. At others I wasn’t sure. I do know that near the end of our conversation she said, “What’s your name?” To me this was a dramatic illustration of the power of feelings over her rational mind. It is also a reminder that it is only a matter of time before she won’t remember either my name or that I am her husband, but I will treasure moments like this one. She was happy, and although I felt a touch of sadness, I was happy for her.

Conversations in the Night

We didn’t have uninterrupted sleep night before last in Nashville. We got to bed around 10:00. A few minutes before midnight, Kate needed to get to the bathroom. As usual, she was confused about its location. I left the light on to make it easy, but that didn’t help at all. I helped her. When we got back in bed, she was very relaxed but talkative. She wanted to know where we were. I told her we were in Nashville. She was surprised, but that isn’t unusual. She could easily have felt the same way at home. She was not confused about who I am, however. She talked about our relationship and how fortunate we have been. She gave special attention to our children and how proud we are about both of them. I don’t know how long we (mostly Kate) talked. I suspect it was no more than fifteen or twenty minutes. At that time of the morning it seems longer. Off and on during that time, she asked me several times where we were. One time after she asked, I told her. She said, “I probably won’t remember.” I said, “That’s all right. You can ask as many times as you want.” She said, “I already forgot. Where are we?”

At 2:15, she needed to go to the bathroom again. I helped her. When she got back in bed this time, she did not remember my name or that I am her husband. Neither did she remember that we have children. She wanted to know where we were. We went through our usual question and answer conversation.

Around 6:00, she woke up and seemed quite alert. She was very talkative. Once again, she talked about our relationship, the good times we have had, her mother and father, and our children. This was a longer conversation than either of the earlier ones. The last thing I remember her saying was, “What’s your name?” This time it took me a little off guard. She had seemed so alert that I expected that it was one of those times she remembered it.

Another Unusual Conversation

After finishing the previous post, I put up my laptop, turned out the light, and got in bed. I quickly discovered that Kate was awake. It was about 9:45, more than two hours since she had gone to bed. I’m not sure how long she had been awake. I suspect it had only been a short time. It could have been the whole time she had been in bed, but I doubt it. It was clear that she was wide awake. She was very talkative. We (she) must have talked thirty minutes before going to sleep.

She began by telling me what she was doing. She wanted me to feel her cheek. I told her it felt very smooth. Then she explained how she made her skin feel that way. She said, “You just wet your skin.” As she said this, she put saliva on her finger and rubbed it across her forearm. She explained that our skin dries out as we age. We can keep it soft by moisturizing it. I was a bit like a psychotherapist. I didn’t say much except to express facilitative comments. She said she was very interested in this and was going to do more study about it. It is hard for me to remember everything she said. I know she  talked about doctors’ knowing these things from their study but that she had learned it on her own through experience. She wanted to know and understand more. She kept saying, “I am really interested in this.” As she talked, she said “this” a lot. At several points, I didn’t understand what “this” was but didn’t stop her.

She made a gradual shift in the conversation. She started talking about the two of us and our relationship. She never asked my name during the entire time. In fact, she used my name several times. On the other hand, it was clear that she did not recognize me as her husband. It reminded me of our previous conversation in which she said, “I think we are going to make a great team.” She made reference to “the other people.” It appeared that she thought we were part of a group at work.

An interesting sidelight is that we were lying next to each other in bed, a very intimate situation. I have no idea where she thought we were. Certainly not in an office somewhere, but she was very circumspect the entire time. It was a very tender conversation without any passionate expressions of love.

She got into this by saying things like, “I feel very at ease with you. I feel I can tell you anything.” I said, “I feel the same way about you. We have a very special relationship.” I kept trying to steer the conversation in the direction of our love for each other. She didn’t rebuff my efforts, but she talked more about her respect for me and not love. It was only late in the conversation after I said I loved her that she acknowledged that she was beginning to feel the same way about me.

Knowing that I would be unable to remember everything that she said, I reached over to my bedside table and got my phone to record our conversation. I am inserting excerpts from that conversation below.

KATE:            I feel more that way now. (That she could tell me anything.)

RICHARD:    More than you used to?

KATE:            I think so.

RICHARD:   I think that’s because we’ve been together so long.

KATE:            Yeah. That’s right, but anyway, Richard, I think we can work together. Not just the two of us but with all the others.

RICHARD:   Who are the others?

KATE:             Sure.

RICHARD:   I think we’ve had a good relationship.

KATE:            I think we have too. And I imagine that it’ll be getting better. I’m feeling more at ease with you. It’s kinda hard to say, but now I’m probably going to be <pause> I have always been honest with you, but I would probably be more (she stumbled on the word she wanted)

RICHARD:    Revealing?

K                    Thank you. Now I could say this to you and ask you to come with the right word and don’t think anything about it.

 

RICHARD:   Good, I’m glad you feel that comfortable.

K                    I’ve always felt fairly comfortable with you, but I’m feeling much more comfortable now. And I think that’s important.

R                   I do, too.

K                    For you and for him

R                   Wait, for me and for Him? Him Who?

K                    You.

R                   I’m so glad we’ve been together a long time.

K                    Well, it’s long and not.

R                   It doesn’t seem as long as it has.

K                    There have been many short times we have worked together.

R                   Well, we’ve been living together though.

K                    Yeah? Right. (expressing her disbelief with a laugh)

R                   We’ve just lived together 55 years.

K                    (again laughs in disbelief) Huh? Don’t throw that on me.

R                   You don’t believe that?

K                    No.

R                   But you do admit we’ve had a good relationship.

K                    Oh, yes. Absolutely! I think from the beginning, it was just ‘Yes, I think he’s just a guy guy, but it wasn’t anything too overhead.’

R                   Now what is it?

K                    It’s getting kinda overhead.

R                   It’s getting overhead?

K                    Oh, yeah. <pause> Oh, yeah. <pause> Much more respect. Liking to be with you. Being willing to say what I really want to tell you. Well, I’ve aways been honest with you.

R                   You know that I love you, don’t you?

K                    You do? <pause> Well, I think I’m loving you.

R                   You do. That’s good. That makes me feel good. I’ve loved you a long time.

K                    Well, I like to be with you so much, so that’s the same. That’s the same. I feel I can always talk with you, be honest with you. And I’m impressed with so many of the things you are able to do. I respect you.

R                   Thank you, Baby.

K                    Well, I’m telling you the truth. The more I get to know you, the more I respect you and like you. And I think that’s wonderful.

R                   I’m so glad.

K                    This is the most  . . I don’t know how to say it. But we understand each other, and we respect each other.

R                   I think we do.

K                    And those are two important things.

R                   And loving each other is important too.

K                    Oh, yes.

R                   You know, this month on December 19 we celebrate the anniversary of our first date in 1961.

K                    WHAT?? 1961??

R                   1961.

K                    That’s a long way. We’ve always connected. <pause> In different ways now. More real honesty. Revealing ourselves and what we think.

R                   You’re very special to me.

K                    You’ve very special to me.

Why does “roller coaster” come to mind?

This has been quite a day. Let me see if I capture it in words. First of all, there was no sleeping in today. I heard Kate push open the door from the back of the house to the family room. When I checked, she was standing in the doorway fully dressed. It was 9:15. I walked over to her and said, “Good morning.” She said, “Let’s go.” She was impatient, ready for her muffin at Panera. I told her I needed a few minutes to get ready and that I would get her medicine for her. She said, “What medicine?” Apparently, she had forgotten she takes pills each morning. This was the first time she has responded this way about her meds.

She went to the kitchen. I went to our bathroom for her medicine. I heard her say loudly, “Hey.” Before I could answer, she said it again. I got the pills and headed toward the kitchen. Again, I heard her say, “Hey, are you coming?” It is not uncommon at all for her to rush me when she is ready. This morning she was more vociferous than usual.

I put her meds on the island where I put them every morning along with a glass of water. After taking half of them, she turned around to the sink and poured out the water. I noticed the others she had left and called her attention to them. This, too, is becoming a frequent pattern, so I am watching more closely to see that she takes them. When I pointed them out, she said, “Why didn’t you put them over here where I could see them – on the counter by the sink where she was standing.” (At one of Kate’s recent doctor’s appointments, the doctor mentioned the possibility of reducing the number she takes. He was talking about her Aricept (donepezil) and Namenda (memantine). I told him I didn’t know that they worked at all, but Kate was doing well. I wasn’t ready to drop them, primarily because there is some evidence that a decline sometimes follows that. I am still not ready to drop these two prescriptions; however, I believe we might be able to give up the vitamin D and calcium. That will be something to discuss at Kate’s next appointment.)

Once we were in the car, she continued her “gruffness” only this time she was trying to be funny. It wasn’t working. It was almost like a Don Rickles bit, and I was the victim. She said some of the things she has said before. She said that I wasn’t handsome and talked about my nose. She surprised me by asking me if she had a nose like mine. I told her she didn’t. She was relieved.

As we got out of the car, one of our Panera friends drove into the space beside us. I said something about his wife’s not being with him. Kate said something like, “I guess she didn’t want to be seen by you.” That is totally out of character for her. I’ve never heard her say something like that to anyone else but me. She was kidding, but it didn’t sound like it.

Once we were inside and about to sit down, Kate stopped and said something to a man seated at the next table. I didn’t heard what she said, but she was telling him something about me. She started to turn away. Then she stopped and said something else to the man. I set up her iPad for her and went to get her a drink. When I brought her drink to her, she said thank you. Then she spoke to the man she had spoken to earlier and said, “He’s really a nice guy.”

Her behavior was not just notable because she was teasing but not doing a good job of it. It was more like she were playing a role and not herself. Normally, she wouldn’t be talking so much, nor would she say the things she said. She continued in the car on the way to lunch. Once again, she was “teasing” me. Something came up about our relationship, and I told her we were married. She expressed surprise. That was nothing new. Then she said, “Is that for real?” I told her it was. She said, “I don’t know what I was thinking. In a few minutes, she said, “You know I’m kidding, don’t you?. You’re a nice guy. What’s your name?” Her tone was very different than before. She was more like herself.

As we settled in at our table in the restaurant, we had a rather typical conversation except that she was more talkative than usual. Several times she asked me questions about her mother and father, my name, her name and where we live. Our server commented that she hadn’t had to refill my coffee as much as she usually does. I also didn’t finish my salad before the entrée arrived. I told her I hadn’t had time because we were talking so much.

After lunch, we drove back to the house. On the way, Kate said she loved me. I told her I loved her as well. Then she said, “What’s your name?” She was very tired and asked if it would be all right if she took a nap when we got home. I told her that would be fine. She didn’t waste much time before she was in the bed where she remained for an hour and a half before I asked if she would like to get out of the house. She was ready, so now we are at Barnes & Noble. We’ll be here another thirty or forty minutes before going to dinner. I’m glad to say it seems like she is back to normal.

Conversation

One of the things I have heard from other spouse caregivers is how much they miss the kind of conversations they used to have. That is something with which I can easily relate. If you are a regular visitor to this site, you have heard me talk about how well Kate and I get along. That is possible because we have let go of the things she can’t do and focused on what she can. That has enabled us to enjoy many things together – travel, music, theater, and social engagement with friends, family, and even strangers. I never imagined that we would be able to get along this well so far into our journey.

Having said that, our story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t recognize the impact that Kate’s Alzheimer’s has had on conversations between us and her conversations with others. There is much in life we can enjoy without depending on our rational thought processes, but much of ordinary conversation depends on memory of people, names, and events. We tell others about a book we are reading, or the movie we saw yesterday, the meal we had last night, what our children and grandchildren are doing. As Kate has lost her memory, she has significantly less that she can talk about. There is little content left.

Another consequence of her memory loss is not understanding what has been said. She often stops me and asks me to repeat what I have said. This is something that has become a greater problem recently. It is as though her brain’s processing has slowed down and the conversation is so rapid she can’t understand. Several times recently when we have been with a group, she has jumped in to say something like, “Wait, stop! Who are we talking about?” I have been pleased that she speaks up in this way. It shows she hasn’t dropped out of the conversation. That is her typical way of responding.

When it is just the two of us, she asks me to repeat a significant portion of what I say. Most of the time, it is because I am giving her information too quickly. She also misunderstands certain words. Sometimes I have to repeat a word several times before she gets it. She may have a build up of wax in her ears. She experiences that from time to time, but I don’t recall its affecting her hearing. I need to check this out.

It is especially easy for her to get lost in a group, even when we are with just one other couple. When we are at a table of six or eight for one of Casa Bella’s music nights, she simply withdraws. We have an hour for dinner and conversation followed by an hour and a half of music. In that case, the music saves the day.

Kate’s most successful conversations have been one on one. I can think of three of those that have occurred over the past year. One of those occurred with our friends, Ann and Jeff Davis. We were in their home when the conversation drifted into one between Jeff and me and another between Ann and Kate. It continued for quite a while. I recall overhearing Kate say a few things that were not accurate. When she can’t remember things, she fills in with something else. Otherwise, Kate appeared like a person without Alzheimer’s.

Another was a few months ago when she received a visit from a church friend. I left the two of them in the family room while I did a few things in the kitchen. I was amazed at the flow of conversation. It was a perfectly normal conversation between two friends. The most recent was two weeks ago today when our housekeeper was here. When we returned from lunch, she and the housekeeper sat down and talked for about thirty minutes. In all three of these conversations, Kate was an active participant. I loved hearing her speak so comfortably.

Earlier this week, we ran into a couple we have met at Barnes & Noble. They asked us to join them at their table. We spent about an hour in conversation. I was surprised at how active Kate was although she did not appear as natural. I had told the couple about Kate’s Alzheimer’s on a previous occasion, so I suspect they appropriately attributed her behavior to her illness. Instead of pulling back in the conversation, she gently worked her way into it. The problem was that she kept talking about her mother and interjecting her comments in the middle of what others were saying. Her comments were totally out of context. It appeared that she wanted to participate but couldn’t judge the appropriate timing and didn’t know what to say except to talk about her mother. As with other things, she doesn’t remember a lot of specifics about her mother. Thus, all her comments are expressions of how thoughtful and kind her mother was. She often says, “She liked to help people.” She repeated essentially the same things several times.

There is something else that happens when she speaks. This is new within the past six months or so. She can’t think of the words she wants to say. Sometimes she mispronounces a word incorrectly in a way that I don’t understand. When it is just the two of us, she often says, “Well, you know what I mean.” Most of the time, I don’t.

Overall, the nature of our conversation has radically changed. We talk less. When we talk, we express our feelings about life, our family, and things we have done together. I often tell her about specific things that I know she can’t remember. I do have a concern that when I tell her things it also serves as a reminder that she can’t remember. So far, she seems to like this, especially when I tell her about our children and grandchildren as well as her parents and grandparents. What I like best about our conversations is that they always focus on good things. I think that is good for both of us.

More Confusion in the Past Two Days

Changes in the Past Two Days

Two things happened night before last that are indicative of the kind of changes Kate is making. After returning home from dinner, she sat down with her iPad. It wasn’t long before she asked for help. It turned out that she thought the puzzles were photos and was trying to figure out how she could label them. At first, I didn’t understand that and tried to show her how to put the pieces together. She responded by asking me to put the pieces in place. I worked two puzzles and asked if she didn’t want to work them herself. She said something that made me realize that she didn’t understand they were puzzles. Then she said she was tired and thought she would put the iPad aside and work on it “tomorrow.” I told her I would put on some music she might enjoy. She said she would to get ready for bed.

After she was in bed a few minutes, I noticed that she was shaking. I asked if she were all right. She said, “I think I made a big mistake and hope I didn’t mess things up.” I asked her to tell me about it. She didn’t know what she had done. She just thought she had done something she shouldn’t have. I told her I was going to take my shower. She said, “When you finish, will you come to bed.” I told her I would even though that would be a little early for me. After my shower, she was still worried about having done something wrong. All I could do was hold her and try to assure her that everything would be all right. I didn’t convince her, but she gradually calmed down and went to sleep.

Over the course of her illness, she has had periodic episodes that involved her thinking I had told her something that I hadn’t or that someone was coming to visit that wasn’t. I can’t help wondering if she is going to experience more of this kind of thing in the days ahead. I hope not. In the past, what she has imagined has bothered her. I hope we can avoid that.

During dinner last night and afterward, Kate was especially confused. She always asks the name of the restaurant as well as the hostess and our server. She just asked more times than usual and also appeared to be struggling more to get it right. She works so hard to remember names and places.

We had the following conversation on the way home.

KATE:            “What are we?”

RICHARD:    “Do you mean the nature of our relationship?”

KATE:            “Yes.”

RICHARD:    “We are married. Are you disappointed?”

KATE:            “No, I’m glad. What is your name?”

RICHARD:    “Richard Lee Creighton.”

KATE:            “What is my name?”

We are working our way into a regular routine when we return home. She said, “I’ll follow you.” She was impressed with the family room. As in the past, it was as though she had never been here before. Then something new occurred. She saw her iPad on a chair and asked, “What is this?” I said, “That’s your iPad” She gave me a look that I interpreted as, “What’s an iPad?” I explained it was something that she could use to work jigsaw puzzles. I wish you could have seen the excitement on her face. She said, “Oh, I’d like to do that right now.” I was shocked that she didn’t know what her iPad is, but it obviously caught her attention. As with people whose names she can’t remember, she didn’t recognize what it was, but she knew it was something familiar.

She mentioned wanting to brush her teeth. I told her to follow me to our bathroom. When she walked in our bedroom, she said, “Oh, this is nice.” Once again, she seemed not to recognize having ever been here before. After she went to bed, she said, “It’s been nice to stay here.” Apparently, she thought we were out of town.

When I got into bed, I moved close to her and put my arm around her. She accepted that as naturally as ever. Then she said something that made me think she didn’t recognize that I am her husband. I said, “You remember that I am your husband, don’t you?” She couldn’t believe it. Then she said, “Could we talk about this tomorrow?”  It seems like she is making noticeable changes on almost a daily basis. I don’t like the direction in which we are going.

A Very Early and Unusual Start Yesterday

It seems like almost every day brings something new. It happened again yesterday morning. I got up to go the bathroom just before 4:30. When I got back into bed, Kate pointed toward the bathroom and said, “Is he still there?” I said, “No, he’s gone.” Then she started to get up. I thought she wanted to go to the bathroom. I asked if that was where she was going. She said, “No.” One of the interesting things was that she appeared to be wide awake. She showed no signs of grogginess the way she usually does when she wakes up. In this case, I don’t think she was really awake. I think she was sleep walking and talking in her sleep. The way she talked just didn’t sound the way she would normally talk. It was more like she and I had been in a conversation, and she was continuing it. I suppose it was more hallucination than anything else. Maybe she was having a dream.

Then she began to look for a light. She finally found the lamp on the table beside my bed and turned it on. I didn’t understand everything she was saying, but it seemed clear that she was planning to get up for the day. I told her it was 4:30 in the morning and that we ought to go back to sleep for a while. She turned off the light and went to the bathroom where she said she was going to brush her teeth. She took longer than I thought was necessary, and I got up to check on her. She had squeezed toothpaste into a plastic cup that she keeps on the counter and filled it with water. Then she started turning the mix with her tooth brush. I helped her get toothpaste on her brush and suggested we get to bed. Then she asked if someone was going to clean up the mess she had made. I told her to leave it and someone would take care of it. When she got up later, she seemed fine.

At lunch, I said something about our having lived in Raleigh after finishing graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. She asked, “What were we doing in Raleigh.” I told her that I was on the faculty at NC State. She said, “What did you teach?” It was telling that nothing rang a bell as I told her about our time there.

She was also a little confused at dinner. We ate at our regular Friday night pizza place. As we walked in, she said she liked their “Christmas lights.” There were no Christmas lights. In fact, I didn’t see anything that looked like lighting that she would have confused as Christmas lights. Fortunately, she didn’t turn that into a conversation. I don’t think I could have carried that off for very long. It wasn’t long before she said, “I think I’m going to miss this place.” I took that to mean Knoxville. It’s been a while since she has said much about our moving to Texas, but she has said several things lately that convey that is still on her mind.

When we got back home, she responded to our house as though it is not the house in which we are currently living. She wanted to brush her teeth and asked me where the bathroom is. I showed her. A little later, she specifically asked me who lived here. I told her it was our house and that we had lived here for 21 years. She found that puzzling. She didn’t remember it at all.

She was also very tired and got into bed a few minutes after 8:00. I hope that means she will get up early today. I’d rather not have to rush her. We are going to Nashville to visit her friend Ellen.

A Conversation at Dinner Last Night

As Kate continues her recent decline, she is more cognizant of her deficits than I might have thought. I believe this is one reason she is expressing more attachment to me. She knows she needs and depends on me. At the same time, I am becoming more sensitive to the fact that I am slowly (and now not so slowly) losing her. Each of our responses to her changes were captured in a brief moment at dinner last night.

She had asked my name and where we were. Then she said, “I’m going to try to do better (remembering).” I said, “As we age, it’s just harder to remember things.” She looked at me and said very calmly, but seriously, “You know it’s more than that.” A moment later, she said, “I’m just glad I have you.” I said, “You know I will always be with you.” Then I added, “Till death do us part.” Then we both acknowledged our inability stop that ultimate separation.

I don’t know that she remembered that she has Alzheimer’s and didn’t pursue it. Her comment does reflect an awareness that her memory problem is not just a matter of getting old. It reminds me of how she felt as far back as 2006 when she believed she had Alzheimer’s. She knew then and she knows now that her problem is serious. It’s not something that everyone experiences.

My response to her also reflects my deeper feelings about losing her. I don’t want to let her go, but that is something I can’t control. I do want her to be secure in knowing that I really will be here for her “till death do us part.”

From Confusion to One of Our Tender Moments

This morning Kate didn’t know I was her husband. I am glad to say that had changed by this afternoon. I don’t mean all confusion was gone but that she at least called me by name and said something about our being married. As we drove to dinner at Chalupas, our favorite Mexican restaurant, she said, “Thank you for being so patient.” That began a conversation (“soliloquy” might be more accurate) that lasted for over an hour in the restaurant. There was much repetition as she said things like, “You are so patient with me.” “I like being with you. It’s not just that you take me places.” “I like the way you treat people.” “What would I do without you?” “You’re a natural caregiver.”

The tenderest moment came as we were finishing our meal. By this time I had reached across the table and taken her hand. She looked at me and said something complimentary. Then she started to say something else and stopped. She said, “No, that’s silly.” I pushed her to tell me. At first, she wasn’t going to say. Then she said, “Would you think of marrying me?” Before I could respond, she said again, “Oh, I know that seems silly.” Then I looked into her eyes and said, “I have a surprise for you.” She said, “What?” I said, “We are married, and I love you.” She was immediately touched and tears filled her eyes. Then I was touched, and here we were sitting in a neighborhood Mexican restaurant, a far cry from a romantic place.

Earlier today I read a tweet by Ann Campanella, author of Motherhood: Lost and Found. She said, “Blessings and loss are so often intertwined in our lives.” I replied that Kate and I frequently have such experiences. Little did I know that we would have one of those tonight. The loss of her not remembering that we are married was overshadowed by her ability to appreciate my caring for her, by her proposal of marriage, and her tender response when I told her we are already married.