Getting Lost is Easy

This Morning: 10:45

We arrived at Panera a few minutes ago. Following our normal routine, I set up Kate’s iPad to her puzzle app and headed to the counter to order her muffin and our drinks. We sit at one of two tables that are about 8-10 feet from where the drink dispenser is located. While I order, Kate fills her cup from the drink dispenser. Even though it is easy for her to see our table, I always tell her and point to the table as I go to order. This works well. She is always sitting at the table working a puzzle when I return though not today.

As I was ordering, Kate casually walked over to me. I introduced her to the new person who was taking my order, I told Kate that her name was Jesse. I expected her to say that our daughter’s name is Jesse when she said, “I have a friend named Jesse.” I am not aware of this friend. I feel sure she was just getting mixed up with our daughter’s name.

When I had paid, we both walked back to our table and took our seats. I didn’t say anything to her , but I know that she didn’t know where our table was located. The easy thing was to find me. She knew that I would be headed there soon. There have been a few other occasions when she hasn’t remembered where our table was located. The big difference is those times was that our regular tables were occupied, so we had to sit in another section of the restaurant. When that happens, I stay in eyesight as she fills her cup. When she is finished, I make sure she gets to the table before I go to order. Today we are sitting at one of the two tables at which we have been sitting for several years, and they are right next to the drink dispenser. To top it off, her iPad has a bright red cover on it that I bought to make it easy to spot. Forgetting where we sit at Panera is yet another step in her journey.

This Afternoon: 3:45

After lunch, we came back to the house. I met a landscaper to talk about a few things I would like to have done in the yard. Kate worked on her iPad for a short time and then took a nap. When she got up, she was ready to go to Barnes & Noble, so here we are. Interestingly, we had a similar event here. I selected a table for us. We switch around a little more here since there are fewer options than at Panera. As I did this morning, I set up her iPad and put it on the table for her. Then I picked up her cup, left the top with her, and went to the counter to get her a drink. As I was ordering, she came to me with the top. I told her that was all right, that I would just put it on when I got the drink. She left to return to the table. I wondered if she would find it. I soon found out. When I finished, I turned around and saw her sitting at another table. I stopped by and said, “Let’s go over to this other table. Our things are over there.” She got up, and we walked back to our original table. Neither this morning’s experience nor this one seemed to be troubling for her. That’s another reason for me to feel grateful.

Visit with Ellen

After our experience at the movie on Friday, I was looking for another way to entertain Kate yesterday. It has been a few days short of a month since we last visited Ellen; so I thought that might be a good thing for us. Typically, I arrange these visits several days to a week in advance. That way I can also coordinate with other friends in Nashville. I try to have lunch with one of them on each of our monthly (or almost monthly) visits to Ellen. This time I made the decision yesterday morning and decided it was too late to arrange something with our friends. Besides, Kate had gotten up later yesterday, and we would have been rushed to get her muffin at Panera. It just wouldn’t have worked.

Before Kate got dressed, I decided to ask her if she would like to visit Ellen. She said that would be nice. While she has always been interested in visiting Ellen, she has seemed increasingly compliant or agreeable at my suggestions. In the same way that she seems to feel a sense of relief that I will take care of ordering her food in restaurants, she seems to be accepting of the things I choose for us to do. The exception is when I suggest seeing someone whom she doesn’t recall. I think she feels a bit insecure when this happens. Once we meet the person, she is fine.

A good example of this insecurity occurred on Thursday. One of her high school friends, Meg Wright had called me to arrange a good time to call Kate. We decided on Thursday afternoon. When I told Kate, she immediately said, “What am I going to talk about?” She has said the same thing when I have mentioned having lunch with one of the couples in Nashville.

We were quite leisurely in leaving for Nashville. I didn’t want to rush Kate unnecessarily. I have found this works well. We went to Panera and then had our regular lunch at Bluefish. This has become a nice Saturday treat. While it doesn’t cost significantly more than other restaurants we frequent, it is a little nicer. I like its ambiance, and it is quiet. Our server, Abby, takes good care of us and gives us a hug when we arrived and when we leave.

From Bluefish, we were on our way and arrived at Ellen’s close the 3:00. She lives in a very nice assisted living facility that also has a memory care section where Ellen has lived since May. We had a nice visit although we thought her speech was more difficult to understand since our visit in August. We were with her almost two full hours and had a good time. I tried not to talk too much in order to enable Kate and Ellen to talk to each other. That is a problem because Kate wears down over a two-hour period, and Ellen is difficult to understand. It is difficult for Kate because of her memory loss. That leaves her with few things to talk about. That is why she gravitates to her family. In that regard, she twice mentioned her grandmother as someone who was ahead of her time because she saw and welcomed a day when blacks and whites would be in the same classrooms. I have never heard about anything like this before. I believe it is just one of the types of things she creates. I have observed that on other occasions. I think something just pops into her head, and she feels like it happened.

It was late when we got back to Knoxville. We dropped by Gregory’s for dinner. We sat at a table that was very close to the entrance to ladies room. I pointed to it and asked Kate if she might like to use it before we ate. She did. While she was gone, I pulled out my phone and was looking at some Facebook posts. When Kate didn’t return in what I thought was a reasonable period of time, I got up and looked around the room and then went into an adjoining room where the bar is located. I didn’t see her and went back to the table. In a few minutes, our waiter came to me and asked if I was waiting for my wife. I told him I was. Then he told me that she was sitting at another table in a section on the other side of the bar. I went around and got her. She was drinking a glass of water that a waiter had brought her.

Kate wasn’t fazed in any way by the experience. She was just as she has been in every experience in which I have lost her. She goes to some location and waits for me to find her. As I escorted her back to our table, she said she wasn’t worried at all (and seemed not to be). I told her she had done the right thing to wait for me to find her and that I will always find her. She said, “I know you will.”

As we got in the car, Kate had to spit and when she did it went on the dashboard. This is not something she would ever have done in the past but is becoming more frequent.

Good Visit with the Greeleys

Yesterday we went to Nashville for a visit with Greeleys. We arrived around 11:30. Jan prepared lunch for us followed a little later by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. We had a great afternoon of conversation on many topics. It was refreshing that no mention was made of our current president who dominates the news these days.

As I probably have mentioned, Kate’s relationship with Scott extends back to the cradle. In fact, their mothers were good friends and pregnant at the same time. Although they didn’t live in the same town while growing up, their families maintained periodic contact during that time. As I understand it, the parents always thought it would be nice if the two of them became a couple. It just never happened.

Scott has, however, remained a very special friend to her. We have always had good visits with Greeleys. With this background in mind, I was eager for another visit. I was not disappointed. As it turned out, this was not just a good visit with them but another in a succession of good visits with friends in the past two weeks. Each of the couples with whom we visited are among our regular friends with whom we had had visits over a long period of time. It is a bit unusual, however, for us to visit so many of them in such a concentrated period of time. This was deliberate on my part. As I have noticed Kate’s transition to a time when her memory is even weaker than now, I have wanted to maximize her contact with our closest friends.

We went to dinner at Olive Garden before coming home. The Greeleys got to be a part of our lives at the end of the meal. Kate went to the restroom before we hit the road. I got up and went far enough with her that she could see the restroom door. Then I stood up beside our booth which enabled me to see Kate when she came out. Jan and Scott both got up and stood with me. As we chatted, we were facing the door to the restroom. It took a while for Kate to come out. Jan asked if she should go and check on her. I told her that Kate often takes a while and even mentioned waiting as long as twenty minutes for her to come out of the restroom on another occasion. We waited a little longer, and I conceded to Jan’s interest in checking on her. Jan came back and indicated that Kate wasn’t there. When she said that, I assumed she would be at the front of the restaurant waiting for us. The three of us headed there where we saw her seated at the bar drinking a glass of water. When she saw me, she calmly said, “I’m glad to see you.” I said, “I’m sorry. I let you slip by me.” That was all that was said. She got up from her chair. We walked over to the Greeleys and walked to the car. It was a good illustration of just how easily I can lose her. In this instance, we were in a place where we were not likely to experience any serious consequences; however, it reinforces my concern about traveling with her. On our previous trip to Lubbock, I got the locations of all of their family restrooms in the Atlanta airport so that we could use them on a future trip.

One week from today, we fly to Buffalo for our annual visit to Chautauqua, and no doubt our last. I will be especially attentive to how things go on the trip, both the travel portion and the time at Chautauqua. This will be especially influential in my plans for a trip to Fort Worth in mid-October. At the moment, I am doubtful that we will make it. I will make a concerted effort to do so as this would be Kate’s last trip home. In addition, it will be special because or grandson, Brian, will be a freshman at TCU this year. His family plans to come over from Lubbock. Kate’s brother and his wife also plan to come from San Angelo. It will be a special family time.