It’s 10:40, and, naturally, we are at Panera. I am a creature of habit. That is no surprise to anyone who knows me well. That personal quirk coupled with Kate’s Alzheimer’s has made for an interesting few years. The good news for both of us is that I am also flexible when I have to be, and I have had to be. In fact, I look at much of the adapting that we have done in a humorous way. As someone with a few compulsive tendencies married to someone who is pretty much a polar opposite, I would say we have made it work quite well for what will be 55 years at the end of May. I consider that an excellent training as Kate’s caregiver.
After a period during which she has slept later than usual, she seems to be working back to what I hope is a normal pattern. She has been getting up around 9:00 and is ready for Panera around 10:00 or shortly thereafter. That gives me three and a half or four hours to get up, eat breakfast, take a walk, check email, take care of any household responsibilities, check Twitter, and work on this blog.
Kate used to get up earlier, go to the kitchen for juice and yogurt, and return to bed. For some reason, she gave that up recently. Now she sleeps later. When she gets up, she takes her shower and gets dressed. This goes on while I am in the kitchen which serves as my office. When she is ready, she walks into the kitchen. That is often when I first know that she is up. The funny thing is that when I say “she is ready,” I mean right now. The problem is that I am not. I am still dressed in my walking clothes and need to change for the day. It annoys her that I am not ready to leave that minute. There’s always a way to deal with a new issue like this. Now I periodically go back to our bedroom to check on her. At some point, I discover that she is no longer in bed. When that happens, I change clothes, get her medications and put them on the island in the kitchen with a glass of water, get her iPad and her cup along with my own cup to take with us to Panera. Then when she walks into the kitchen, all I have to do is close my computer and put it and her iPad in my computer bag. I can easily do that in less time than it takes for her to take her pills.
On those mornings when I am late in discovering that she is up, I have to rush getting dressed and gathering our things together. While I am doing that, she usually goes to the car and waits for me. Even on cold mornings, she usually forgets to wear a sweater or coat. Fortunately, she has never had to wait long. I pick up a coat for her along with the other items mentioned above, and we’re off.
She hasn’t always been in the position of waiting for me. That’s what adds a dimension of humor to the situation. Like other things, this has not been of great significance in the morning. If I apologize for keeping her waiting, she says, “You didn’t take too long.”
When we arrived at Panera this morning, I noticed a group of women were seated next to the table at which we usually sit. They come to Panera about once a week after their morning run. They are usually pretty loud. When they arrive before us, I try to find a table in a different location as I did today. I stayed near the table while Kate got a drink. I stood so that I could see her, and she would be able to see me. I knew she would not remember where I was. After getting her drink, she walked directly to our regular table. I walked over to get her. She was waiting calmly for me, and I noticed that she had taken my cup instead of hers. Her ability to distinguish things that are different has diminished as well. My cup is smaller and made of stainless steel. Her cup is a larger green plastic cup. They are just the same to her. Similarly, she often picks up my iPad thinking it is her own even though mine is a larger version with a keyboard. Naturally, I am going to be a little sensitive about this since she is usually eating a muffin. Inevitably, that means crumbs and oil on the keyboard and screen. I try not to let on that this bothers me, but sometimes I fail.
Kate always enjoys being around children. We sat by a couple with a toddler at the table beside us. She initiated a brief conversation with them just before they left. On the other side of our table sat a mother and her two girls, one who is 4 and the other 2. Just watching children brightens Kate’s day. I think it’s going to be another good day for us.