A Very Good Day with our Son

Our son, Kevin, arrived Thursday morning from Texas. Weather wise, it was the best day we have had since last May. We took advantage of it by eating lunch outside on the patio of a sports bar a short distance from our house. It was a good start to his visit. Although Kate often has difficulty remembering that we have children, she responded to Kevin as though she knew exactly who he is. We had a relaxing conversation. The fact that it was just the three of us and that it wasn’t noisy added to the pleasure of the moment. There were times then and later in the day when she asked him his name as naturally as she asks mine.

She had a routine dental appointment at 2:00. Kevin went along with us. I thought it was good for him to be a part of the experience though he remained in the waiting room while she saw the hygienist and dentist. For the first time, I went in with her. I did so because of her experience on the previous visit six months ago. At that appointment, she was frightened when the hygienist cleaned her teeth, and they had to cut her visit short. This time I gave her a Xanax before going and went in the room with her. Everything went smoothly. I didn’t think that had anything to do with my being in the room with her, but the hygienist felt it was helpful and suggested we make this a habit in the future. Both the dentist and the hygienist commented that her teeth and gums were in excellent condition.

Once we were home, I picked up Kate’s “Big Sister” album and suggested that she show it to Kevin. They sat down on the sofa and started going through it while I went to the grocery to pick up a few things for Kevin’s breakfast. In just the few minutes before I left, I could see that they were having a good time.

When I returned, they were still enjoying going through the album. Kate continued to relate to Kevin very comfortably. He had a beautiful opportunity to see first hand the kinds of things I have noted in the blog. Since most of the pictures are of family, Kevin was able to tell her all or most of the names. I joined them in the room with the intention of just listening to their conversation. Kate asked me to sit with them, and I did. There were a few things I commented on, but I let the conversation between the two of them continue. At one point, Kevin pointed to a photo of Kate and me and himself. She asked his name. He told her, and she asked his last name. Then she said, “Who are your parents?” After two hours or longer, Kate said she was getting tired. It was also time for us to prepare to leave for dinner, but this conversation, like others she has had with her brother Ken, was a beautiful thing to watch. I love seeing her enjoy herself. That is especially true when she is engaged in conversation with someone with whom she is so comfortable.

We finished the day with a good evening at Casa Bella for Broadway Night. Kate enjoyed herself as usual although she was a little lost in the conversation. The other two couples were there ahead of us which left us with minimal choices about our seating arrangement. Kate and I sat across from each other. We could have sat side by side, but she would have been seated with her back to the singers. Everything worked out well until late in the program when I saw her looking around the room for me. She had forgotten where I was seated. I was able to catch her attention and reached across the table to take her hand. She was relieved and teary but recovered nicely. I doubt that anyone else noticed except the woman seated next to her.

At Stage 7 of Alzheimer’s, is there really any joy for caregivers and the ones for whom they care?

My memory of the last stage of my mother’s dementia has faded significantly. One thing I remember is that, except for his Kiwanis meetings, my dad still took her with him whenever he went out. That was the only time he sought help. He dropped her off at a senior day care for four hours to attend his meeting and shop for groceries.

I look back with amazement as I think of those days. At the time, I wondered why he did it. He was eighty-eight, and she was completely dependent on a wheelchair the last two or three years. In order to get her from their apartment (that fortunately was on the ground level) to the car, he had to roll the wheelchair 25-30 feet over grass. Then he got her into the front seat of the car, folded the wheelchair, and loaded it in the trunk of his car. From my personal experience, this was not a simple task. Yet I never heard him utter the first word of complaint. They had been married 70 years when she died. He was just expressing his love for her in the only way he knew how at that point, and he did it joyfully.

Now that Kate is closer to that stage of her Alzheimer’s, I have a greater sense of what sustained him. He could see what I didn’t. There is no doubt to me now that he could find joy in their relationship when it appeared to me that the joy had long since passed.

I believe Kate and I have some time left before she is at that same point, but I can already see that joy is indeed possible very late in this disease. I am sure that doesn’t happen for everyone. As I have said before, we are very fortunate. My point is that it can happen and should be something for which those of us living with Alzheimer’s can hope.

Moments of joy may not come as often as they did before. They may be short-lived.  They do occur for us, however. We had another of those “Happy/Joyful Moments” at lunch yesterday. As I reported in my previous post, she didn’t know my name or our relationship when she got up to go to the bathroom in the morning. I’m not sure whether she did or didn’t later when I got her up for lunch. There were times during lunch when I know she didn’t. Neither did she remember her own name. As earlier that morning, she was quite at ease with me. When she asked my name and relationship, she accepted it as naturally as she did when she pointed to her salad and asked, “What is that?”

She was very talkative. Interestingly, we didn’t gravitate to our usual conversations about family and marriage. She asked questions about the restaurant, the food, and the staff. It was unusually quiet when we arrived. Only one other table was occupied. She said, “I wonder if <using her hand because she couldn’t think of the word for servers> like it better when it is quiet like this or when it is ‘you know’ <again using her hand and groping for the word ‘busy.’>

It is always fascinating when she doesn’t “know” me but also talks about my personality quirks. She kidded me a lot during lunch, and none of the kidding had a bitter edge to it. She was having fun, and I loved it.

Because it was less busy, we got more attention from the staff. We had several conversations with our server. Another person who often serves us stopped by our table to speak. The manager also stopped by for a brief visit. During our conversation with the manager, I commented on how much I had liked the broccolini salad with a little tomato and feta cheese. Kate didn’t like it because she doesn’t like the crispiness of raw vegetables. As the manager was about to walk away, Kate said, “And don’t give me any of that anymore.” She didn’t sound offensive. It was more like a little child simply expressing her distaste for the salad, something I had already explained to the manager.

She also said or did a couple of other things that I got a kick out of. She now frequently mixes her words and sometimes says something that is just the opposite of what she meant or is a homonym for the word she wanted. For the first time, she did this with a gesture instead of a word. She dropped a piece of cheese on the table, picked it up with her hands, and ate it. She gave me a devilish smile, put her hand over my mouth (instead of my eyes) and said, “You didn’t see that.”

A little later we had dessert. When the server brought it to the table, she kidded me, saying, “Didn’t you want one too?” She took a bite or two. Then I said, “You’re going to like that.” She said sternly, “I’m already enjoying it.” I said, “I should expect that from an English teacher. You want to make sure I’m using the correct tense.” For some reason, she thought that was funny and began to laugh. I guess that was because it was something she would usually say and not “me,” Oops, “I.” <G>

Oh, yes, the meal was also very good, but that wasn’t what gave us so much pleasure. Being together, and with other people, is what made lunch special. We had a good time.

A Social Occasion That Went Very Well

Yesterday, as we were about to leave for lunch, I received a call from our pastor asking if we had lunch plans. Despite the fact that we were going straight from the restaurant to a hair appointment for Kate and then drive to Nashville, I invited him to join us. That is probably a good indication of how important social contact is for us. Otherwise, I would have told him we were on a tight schedule and arrange another time. I made the right decision.

Not surprisingly, Kate did not remember him when I told her he was coming. She took it nonchalantly with no expression of excitement or reluctance. We had already taken our seats before he arrived. When he saw us, he walked over and greeted Kate. She called him by the wrong name. He gave her his correct name and said, “That’s all right. I get called lots of things. You can call me whatever you want.” That began a beautiful conversation that went on for over an hour before we had to leave.

Kate was in one of her talkative moods, and our pastor is a good facilitator. She was immediately very comfortable. In fact, she was “unleashed.” Early on I mentioned something about his being our pastor. She was surprised. She looked at him and said, “You are? I didn’t know that.” That was one of many things she said that were clear signs of her Alzheimer’s. She had to ask lots of questions to understand what he and I said. Many of them involved the definition of words that we used. Her aphasia is definitely becoming more pronounced.

There were two things I especially liked about our time together. One is that she was on equal footing with the two of us in the conversation. In fact, she may have talked more than either of us. Another is that she conveyed so well what she is like as a person as well as a person with Alzheimer’s. I don’t recall our ever having been in a social situation where she has been this way before. I attribute that heavily to our pastor. She was very comfortable with him and even said so. I don’t recall her words at all, but she took two or three minutes to comment on his ability to put people at ease.

The conversation illustrated her heightened emotional state. Our pastor said something very early about some of the mass shootings that have occurred around the country. Kate was very sad and in tears. When the conversation drifted to our relationship, she noted that we are a team and work together well. She wanted to convey how fortunate we have been and couldn’t think of the word she wanted. Our pastor said, “Blessed?” She said, “Yes, we’re blessed.” That led her to say, “I wish everyone could have what we have.” She was in tears again.

We also talked about several members we thought had made special contributions to our church. The pastor looked directly at Kate and said, “And you are one of those people.” He went on to talk about her nineteen years of volunteer service as the church librarian. That brought more tears.

When we got to the car, the first words that Kate spoke were, “I feel happy.” I said, “I do too.” It was a beautiful experience in which she got to be a significant part of the conversation, and, amidst the stumbles she made because of her Alzheimer’s, she was able to convey the depth of her insight even now. It was a very special time for me. It was another “Happy Moment” for us.

It was a good example of Kate’s intuitive abilities. Although our conversation included factual information that she didn’t fully understand, we talked largely about our feelings about our lives as well as the people and world around us. That is something she can still understand. She was quite open about her feelings. She even responded negatively to our pastor when he tried to pay her a compliment. I don’t remember what he said, but she thought he was criticizing me. She quickly responded and said, “Don’t you say that about him.”

It was also an illustration of the way someone can put her at ease. She connected quickly with him. I had seated her so that he and Kate were directly across from each other. I think that helped. The key factor, however, was the way he related to her. From the outset, he made her feel she was an equal partner in the conversation. She knew he was listening to her.

I think most people are a bit unsure about how they can best relate to someone with dementia. The easiest thing is to hold back. I was reminded of two other successful encounters we have had with Twitter friends of mine. When I introduced Kate to them, they immediately gave their attention to her. That made Kate comfortable and led to a very good conversations. It strikes me that this is a good way to begin with anyone we meet, not just someone with dementia.

Visits with Nashville Friends

The recognition that Kate is now entering the last stage of her Alzheimer’s motivates me to do what I can to maintain our longstanding friendships with out-of-town friends. With that in mind, Saturday we drove to Nashville to visit Ann and Jeff Davis. Our past visit had been a good one, and I was eager to see how this one would go. Although she didn’t remember them before our arrival, Kate accepted the fact that we were going to see them without any reluctance at all. A couple of times on the way (and after I had mentioned our visit again) she did ask me to remind her of who they were. She was never straight on that.

As on our previous trip, she was immediately taken with the flowers outside. Ann saw us and came out to greet us. Our greeting was as natural as ever. I think Kate felt completely at ease. We went to their sun room where we enjoyed catching up with them. Since our last visit, they had taken a Danube River cruise and also made a trip to Mexico for a Spanish immersion course. Our conversation was lively, and the two hours we spent with them went quickly.

Kate was less talkative this time. Some of that may have been because the rest of us talked so much. I know she could not have followed everything we said. Throughout our visit, I was concerned that she was uncomfortable. It was a surprise when we got in the car to hear her say she had enjoyed the visit. She didn’t say anything that would have given me the idea that she was ignored or bored.

My own reading of the situation is that she was confused by our conversation and may have been uncomfortable. She chose to remove herself from it, an easy way to adapt to a challenging situation. I suspect this is something that I am more likely to see in the future. It reminds me of my mom when she and dad were with us in any group. She was very quiet.

Our visit does make me think about ways that I could have brought Kate into the conversation. Much of our conversation related to our past experiences, something that is impossible for her to handle. She does, however, retain her feelings. She could talk about her feelings for her family, especially her family. She also retains a strong sense of social justice and the fact so many people live in underprivileged conditions. These are things that are easy for the two of us to discuss. It seems like it might be more contrived in a typical social get together like the one on Saturday. I am going to think about creative ways in which I might encourage at least some conversation on topics that we could all appreciate.

Staying overnight in Nashville has worked out well for us. We had a nice dinner the night before, and Kate was able to sleep late before our going to lunch and then visiting our friend Ellen at her memory care facility. Our visits with her continue to be challenging. We understood very little of what she said. In addition, her memory is also declining. Her daughter told me to ask about Ellen’s visit from her son’s family the previous weekend. They live out of state and don’t get to visit very often. When I asked, Ellen didn’t remember their coming at all.

A few weeks ago, we saw a woman from the church where Ellen directed the choir for forty years. She told us about several videos of her daughter singing solos with the choir. She had posted on YouTube. I played them for Ellen. That was a treat for her and for us.

For the third time in a row, we were there for the “music lady” who comes to the facility about twice a month. She plays the piano and sings and invites audience participation. The residents love her. I can see why. Kate and I enjoy her as well. Kate seemed a little more controlled in her expression of enthusiasm than the first time we were there, but she danced and sang a little as well as clapping her hands and swinging her arms with the music. She was enjoying herself so much that we stayed thirty minutes longer than I intended.

I feel good that we can still have weekends with visits like this at this point in our journey and plan to keep going as long as we can.

Yesterday’s Lunch Conversation

I wasn’t at all surprised that Kate was up earlier than usual yesterday morning. She had rested plenty the day before. She was also alert and even called me by name. She got ready early enough for us to make a trip to Panera before leaving for lunch.

It was an unusually pleasant and leisurely lunch that was a beautiful example of how much pleasure one can have living in the world of a person with dementia. We had at least a thirty-minute conversation that a listener might have found interesting without realizing that Kate has Alzheimer’s.

It began when I said something about a memory of a sailing trip my brother and I took in the Virgin Islands with our two sons when they were about twelve or thirteen. Kate often responds to something like this by saying, “Why didn’t you take me?” That prompted me to say that except for business trips it was the only trip I had ever taken without her.

As I started to tell her the story of that trip, I mentioned Kevin’s name. Our conversation seemed so normal that I assumed she knew that she was Kevin’s mother. Then she said, “You’re a father?” I told her I was and said, “And you’re a mother.” She scowled and said, “No, I’m not.” That led me to ask how she thought we were related. She said, “Friends. Good friends.” I said, “Who are living together.” She frowned and said, “I would not express it like that. I’m surprised that you would even say that.” I said, “Why not? We live together.” She said, “Yes, but you know what I mean.” I said, “We’ve lived together for a long time.” She said, “That’s different.” I asked if she would ever think about having children. She said, “I would like to have children some day but not yet.” Then she said something funny, but I can’t remember what. I said, “That’s one of the things I like about you. You can be funny.” She said, “Only around you. When I am with my girl friends, they don’t think I’m funny.”

About that time, I suggested it was time to leave. I said, “I love you.” I read her lips. She said, “I love you too.” And we left for home.

Day 2 of our Trip to Nashville

Yesterday’s visit with the Greeleys turned out well though Kate had a rough start first thing in the morning. Morning confusion is becoming more common now. That is especially understandable when she wakes up in a strange place.

As usual, I had gotten up a good while before she awoke about 8:30. She said, “Hey.” I walked over to the bed, and she said, “Who are you?” I asked if I looked familiar to her. She said I did. I gave her my name and told her I am her husband. She said, “Who am I?” When I told her, she wanted to know where she was and then why we were there. I explained about our coming to Nashville to see the Jan and Scott. She said, “Who?” I gave her the background to our friendship and specifically that she and Scott had been friends her entire life. Nothing rang a bell. I didn’t say anything about our having been with them the previous afternoon or having dinner with them. I relied on something I frequently tell her when we are at home. “It’s early in the morning. Sometimes you are confused when you wake up, especially when you are in a strange place. Once you are up you’ll feel better.” Then I told her it was still early and asked if she would like to get up or rest a little longer. She wanted to rest. I told her I would be just across the room at the desk and that I wouldn’t leave her. She said, “Good.” She woke up again two hours later. As she did earlier, she asked where she was and then why we were there. I went through the same explanation as I had done previously.

We checked out of our room in time to meet the Greeleys at our hotel for lunch. I didn’t want Kate to have to walk to the car and back, so I kept our suitcase and computer case with us until they arrived. I made a mistake when Jan and Scott walked in. I should have said, “Look Kate, it’s Jan and Scott Greeley.” Instead I greeted them as I always have. That would have worked in the past, but this time Kate needed me to remind her of their names and that we were having lunch together. Of course, I had told Jan before they arrived, but she had forgotten. When I realized, I called them by name, and Jan gave her name. Then I suggested that I take our things to the car and for the group to wait a moment. That is when Kate got up and said, “I’ll go with him.” That prompted Scott to say, “You don’t have that much. Why don’t we just take them with us to our table.” That worked well.

The lunch also went well. It was a buffet, and Kate and Scott remained at the table while Jan and I got our food. I also brought Kate’s to her. Even though it was not crowded, it was much easier than her doing it herself. Kate accepts this very naturally. This was not one of those times for independence.

As happens so often now, Kate asked that we repeat ourselves a number of times. This is commonplace. It is difficult for her to follow conversations. Even when we are alone, she asks me to speak more slowly. Apart from that and the insecurity she showed when I was about to leave her to put our things in the car, she enjoyed herself as did the rest of us.

Prior to the trip, Scott and I had exchanged emails in which he and I mentioned continuing care retirement communities. He told me that they were looking at one, and I told him about the commitment I had made to one in Knoxville. After lunch, I asked if he and Jan could drive us by the CCRC he had mentioned in his message. I might have expected that it would mean little to Kate, but it turned out to be a good thing. We not only drove around the campus, but we went into the main building. Kate loved the beauty of the place and took special note of the flowers both inside and outside. As I reflect on it, this was the kind of experience in which she can enjoy herself in the company of others without any pressure at all. She was free to walk around on her own and take in things without our pointing them out. It took away all the pressure that conversation represents for her. It may seem strange, but it reminds me of trips to the zoo. She enjoys looking around at things of beauty or special interest to her.

When we left for home, she mentioned how much she had enjoyed the Greeleys. She always has. I knew she would this time. It just took a little longer to feel at ease. I take that as another sign of the progression of her Alzheimer’s.

After dinner last night, we spent some time in the family room looking at the “Big Sister” album that Kate’s brother Ken had made for her a year ago. That has become far more important to her than he could ever imagine. She is enthralled by the cover picture of the two of them. She spends more time with that particular photo book more than any of the others. Last night, she went through it twice with me. I left to take a shower, and she started on it a third time. After my shower, she was still looking at it. I told her it was getting time for us to get ready for bed. She asked if she could take it with her. She held it in her arms and said, “I love it.” She was tired, however, and didn’t look at it again. She got ready and got in bed. She had had a full day and, except for her confusion in the morning, enjoyed every minute.

Kate was in an especially good mood yesterday.

Most of the time Kate is good-natured. That is one of the reasons life has gone so well for us. There are times when she is low. Those are usually times when she is more mindful of lack of memory and inability to function the way she should. There are other times when she is unusually upbeat. Most of the time, she is somewhere in between the two extremes.

Yesterday she was in an especially good mood, and it lasted the entire day. I’m having difficulty thinking of a word that captures it. There are two things that were different. The first is that she smiled a lot. The second is that she was very agreeable and easily “rolled with the punches” when things didn’t go her way. Yesterday was the first time she has had a sitter in three weeks. I wondered if she would feel uncomfortable when the sitter arrived and I left. That was no problem at all. She seemed happy to see the sitter and not bothered in the least when I left. The same was true when I got home. She was glad to see me, there was no sign of relief as sometimes happens. She just seemed happy and nothing could change that. Above all, I didn’t see any sign of concern over Alzheimer’s symptoms.

This is not to say that her memory was any better. In fact, she seemed so happy that I found myself thinking of her the way she was before Alzheimer’s. That was quickly erased when she would ask me something like “Where is the bathroom?” in our house. I did, however, get the impression that she remembered I was her husband all day or close to it. As we neared time for bed, she said, “I want to thank you for your patience with me.” I think that was prompted by my helping a number of times with her puzzles. Shortly after that she said something that clearly acknowledged that we were married. Just as quickly that was followed by her asking my name and hers. I was just grateful to see her so at ease and happy all day.

The Value of Social Connections

Maintaining social connections has been a major part of our therapy since Kate’s diagnosis. I have found it especially important in recent months as Kate has declined more significantly. Although she enjoys being with others as much I do, her pleasure is strictly in the moment. On the other hand, I enjoy the anticipation, the moment, and the memories. As a caregiver, being with other people lifts my spirits. I never heard my dad express it, but I know he must have felt the same way as he cared for my mother who had dementia.

Yesterday we drove to Asheville for what turned out to be a better than expected variety of social experiences. As I mentioned in my previous post, I thought it could be our last one and wanted to see a couple of people who had meant a lot to us on our previous visits. A few days before leaving, I learned that one of my Twitter friends and her husband were in Asheville and would be driving back home Sunday afternoon. I asked if we might meet before they left. We decided to get together at our hotel as soon as we arrived.

Our meeting went off without a hitch. I was eager to meet my friend and was eager to introduce her to Kate. This could have easily been a conversation between my friend and me, but she immediately looked straight at Kate and engaged in conversation with her. I was pleased to see that. It illustrated her sensitivity and comfort level with people with dementia. More importantly, she quickly established rapport with Kate. That set the stage for an hour-long conversation before they had to leave. As we were saying our goodbyes, my friend said something nice to Kate who was unable to respond verbally. The tears in her eyes said it all. She was touched by someone who entered her life as a stranger but left her feeling as though she were a longtime friend.

Our experience at dinner turned out to be another touching experience. We had another anniversary celebration. This time at a new restaurant but with a server who has taken care of us at three different places over the past few years. It was good to see her again. Just as I am telling you about her, she had told her associates, including the manager, about us. We met several of them and were very well-cared for. The meal itself was outstanding. At the end of the meal, we had quite a surprise. Our server said the evening was “on her.” She didn’t even accept a tip.

Experiences like these are bright spots in our lives. They sustain us through difficult times, and we have enough of them to keep us going. I feel grateful.

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?

Still Having Fun

A little while ago, I posted a picture on Facebook. It was of Kate and me taken at lunch on Sunday with a rather large piece of chocolate cake in front of us. A friend asked if it was a special occasion. I replied that we make every day a special occasion. I really meant it as a playful response, but we really do make everyday situations special. In the middle of all Kate’s changes, we continue to have fun.

At the moment, I am thinking of experiences we had at lunch time today.
As we walked along the restaurant’s outside patio, I heard a song that was popular in the 60s and asked Kate if she would like to dance. She said, “No, but you can.” I took her up on it and started dancing while she watched. The song ended, and she applauded. We both laughed and opened the door. That’s when we saw several servers who had been watching us through the window. I felt a little silly, but they seemed to get a kick out of this old couple having a good time.

We had another moment of laughter when Kate asked the name of the restaurant. I said, “Tony’s Kitchen.” She tried to repeat it and said, “Tony’s Chicken.” That led to a few minutes during which I attempted to teach her that it was “Kitchen” not “Chicken.” I was never successful, but we both enjoyed a good laugh.

It’s spring, and Kate loves the azaleas. It is impossible for her to remember what they are called. She refers to them as “those pink flowers.” She has always enjoyed “the green” of trees, shrubs, and vines. The new growth of leaves on the trees has added to her pleasure. The beauty of spring makes even a routine drive to and from a restaurant special.

Moments like these are good for both of us. They help us maintain a positive outlook while “Living with Alzheimer’s.”