A Good Day

Yesterday morning, I walked into our bedroom at 11:00 to check on Kate. She looked like she was asleep but opened her eyes as I approached her. She smiled and asked, “Who are you?” I said, “Would you like to guess?” She said, “My husband?” I said, “We’re off to a good start?” She smiled. She asked my name and then hers. I told her and said I would like to take her to lunch. She said she was hungry but needed her clothes. I pointed them out to her and asked if she wanted to shower. She didn’t. That helped us get ready more quickly than usual.

She was in a good humor and showed a good understanding of my personality. As we walked out of the house, she spit on the floor of the garage. Then she said, “I know that bothers you.” I said, “What makes you think that?” She said, “You like everything just right.” I don’t say much about this, but she frequently says things about me (mostly my OCD tendencies) that are right on target. It continues to amaze me that her feelings for people and things are so strong even as her memory fades.

At home, in the car, at lunch, and the balance of the day, she frequently asked, “Where are we right now?” As I have said before, this is a common experience. It just occurred more yesterday.

The weather this week and next is supposed to be cold, so I wanted to get her a couple of new sweaters. I took her to a department store not far from the restaurant where we had lunch. I had mentioned this before lunch, and she frowned. She doesn’t care much for shopping. It could be that it is too confusing for her to look at her options and make a decision. After lunch I didn’t tell her where we were going. I just drove to the store. We got out and went directly to the sweaters. I picked out three things in the right size and asked how she liked them. They were fine. She wasn’t excited about having new clothes, but I felt better than we have more options now.

We had dinner with friends we had met at Casa Bella on their Broadway nights. We have gotten together with them on several other occasions. Kate was less active in our conversation than the three of us, but she enjoyed herself. We will be with them this coming Monday night at Casa Bella for their annual Christmas dinner and again next Wednesday for a concert a short drive from Knoxville. It’s good for both of us to expand our social connections.

When we got home, we watched a series of YouTube videos of Christmas music sung by the Tabernacle Choir. She was enthralled by them. When I turned off the music, she talked about how much she enjoyed our being able to share in the music together. As I helped her get ready for bed, we had another special moment. She thanked me “for all you do for me.” She said she thought we were a good match for each other.  It wasn’t until she said, “I think we are going to make a good team.” that I realized she was talking as though we were not married but anticipating it. She was optimistic about our future together and stumbled over her words. I said, “Do you mean ‘mature together?’” She said, “Yes, we’re going to mature together.” Then she mentioned that she was going to want children and thought I felt the same way. As we got into bed, she said, “This is the first time I have felt like a real grown up.” She continued to talk about how good she felt about us. It was interesting that she never asked my name, her name, or the names of her parents. She was absorbed in our relationship, and so was I.

Confused But at Ease

Yesterday I decided to let Kate sleep a little later than the past few days. I checked on her at 11:00 and found that her eyes were open. I asked if she would like to get up. She asked me to give her a little more time. I went back in twenty minutes. She was awake. I told her it was getting close to the time we should leave for lunch and thought she should get up if she could. She indicated she was hungry.

I said something about her having slept later than she had during the time Virginia and Ken were visiting. She said, “Who?” I told her again. She didn’t recognize who I was talking about. I said, “Ken is your brother.” There was no sign of recognition. She said, “What’s his name?” I repeated his name. She usually says she likes the name “Franklin.” This time it meant nothing to her. She did ask where he got his name. I told her from his mother and father and that they were also her parents. She wanted know their names. I told her. She wanted me to repeat their full names. She asked me to do it again. She wanted me to say each name (first, middle, and last) slowly so that she could repeat each one. When I had done this, she wanted to know my name. I told her and told her I am her husband. She was surprised. I told her a little bit about our courtship and then our marriage in her home church. She was still puzzled but accepted what I had said.

Two things struck me about this experience. The first is that it’s one more time that it took her a while to acknowledge that we are married. It’s getting harder for her to remember that. The second is that she continues to trust me as someone she knows. She shows no sign of fear. She seems perfectly comfortable with me. I am grateful for that.

All of this must have taken fifteen minutes. She finally got up a little after noon. She took a shower and then got back in the bed. I got her up just after 1:00. It was 1:45 when we left for lunch. Just before leaving, she walked out of the bathroom with a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush in her hand and asked, “Are we going to stay another night?” I told her we were. Then I took them back to the bathroom.

The rest of the day went quite well. I saw no indication that she forgot that I am her husband although she did ask my name a number of times. At lunch she said something affectionate and immediately asked my name. Then she laughed in recognition of how strange it sounded to pair those two things. Twice she mentioned that she remembered coming to the restaurant with her mother although her mother had never been there.

There is one other thing I haven’t commented on before. The restaurant where we eat each Sunday has several prominent photos of Frank Sinatra, and much of their music features him. One of the photos was taken when he was arrested for seduction and adultery in 1938. Kate asked me about the photo the first time she saw it. I explained and also said something about his mob connections. I didn’t think much of it, but every Sunday she asks me who he is multiple times. When I say his name, she always responds negatively. Today, for example, she said, “He’s a rat.” Then she said, “I don’t know why I feel that way.” It’s another good example of how well she can hold on to feelings while she so easily forgets names and other facts associated with them.

I was about to finish this post when I recalled one other example of the power of feelings. Last night I played several YouTube videos of Christmas music when I suggested it was time to get ready for bed. She got up from her chair to walk to the bathroom. As she did, she commented on the beautiful music and how special it was that we could share it together. Then she asked my name. A few minutes later she called me by name. She hasn’t completely forgotten it yet.

When she came out of the bathroom, she said, “I’m glad we came here.” A few minutes later she asked where we are and how I found “this place.” I told her I couldn’t remember. She thanked me for bringing her here.

As I was helping her get into her night clothes, she said, “I wonder what my mother would think of this. <pause> I think she would approve.” Then she thanked me and said, “I don’t know what I would do without you. I mean it. I really don’t know how I could do it.”

All of these things are signs that she is still able to feel, enjoy, and appreciate things. I am grateful. We have made the most of that ability in the past and will continue to do so even as the names and recognition of people and places recedes from her memory.

Confused Upon Waking

Adapting to Kate’s sleeping later may be getting more complicated. Yesterday, she was up early. That worked well because she and I had a 1:30 appointment to have our picture taken in connection with the foundation on whose board I served for nine years. Not having to wake her made it less stressful getting her ready so that we could have lunch before then.

Today, however, she slept late again, and it is a day for the sitter. I turned on some music at 10:15. Then at 10:45, I tried to wake her. She wanted to sleep a little longer. At 11:30, I tried again. I sat down beside her on the bed and put my hand on her shoulder. She opened her eyes and looked at me. She looked confused and asked, “Who are you?” When I told her my name and that I am her husband, she looked shocked. Here is my best effort to describe the conversation we had over the next twenty minutes or so.

RICHARD:              “Yes, I am your husband, Richard, and we have been married for 55 years.”

KATE:                       “What is your name?”

RICHARD:              “Richard Lee Creighton.”

KATE:                       “Say it slower.”

RICHARD:              “Richard <pause> Lee <pause> Creighton.”

KATE:                       “What is my name?”

RICHARD:              “Kate Franklin Creighton.”

KATE:                       “Say it again.”

RICHARD:              “Kate Franklin Creighton.”

KATE:                       “Let me say it. . . Kate . . . Wait a minute; say it again slowly.”

RICHARD:               “Kate <pause> Franklin <pause> Creighton.”

KATE:                       “Kate Franklin Creighton.”

RICHARD:              “Yes, and we have two children.”

KATE:                       “We do? <pause> What are their names?

RICHARD:              “Jesse Brewer and Kevin Creighton.”

KATE:                        “What is your name?”

RICHARD:               “Richard Lee Creighton, and I am your husband.”

KATE:                        “You are?” (with a look of disbelief)

RICHARD:              “It seems like you feel comfortable with me even though you don’t recognize me as your husband.”

KATE:                       “Yes.”

RICHARD:              “That’s probably because we have been together so long. We have been very happy together.”

KATE:                       “We have?” (with her first smile of the conversation)

RICHARD:              “Yes. I think we are a perfect match (she smiled with approval), and we have two children that we are very proud of.”

KATE:                       “We do? Why can’t I remember that?”

RICHARD:             “Well, sometimes our memory fades as we get older.”

KATE:                      “I don’t believe you, but it’s nice of you to say that.” (She is still perceptive.)

RICHARD:            “I love you, and I’d like to take you to lunch.”

KATE:                     “Where are my clothes?”

RICHARD:           “They’re right here on the chair.”

Then I helped her get up. When she was dressed, she said she wanted to go to the  bathroom. She said, ‘Where is it?” There was more than I have quoted above, but I think this captures the essence of the conversation. There was a good bit of repetition, both in her questions and my answers.

From this point on she did not appear to be confused though she was still unable to remember that we have children. That has been common for weeks, perhaps months, now.

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.

A Day of Names

Kate frequently asks me to tell her my name and the names of our children and grandchildren. Yesterday was different in that it occurred so much. I suspect if we hadn’t had a sitter in the afternoon she would have asked me more times. As we left for Panera yesterday, she said, “What is your name?” She asked again at Panera. She also asked, “Where are we?” That is something else that occurred more often than usual. I often answer, “Knoxville where we have lived for 47 years.” She always expresses surprise about the number of years. This happened several times yesterday. A few times were so close together that even I was surprised she had no recollection of how long we had lived here. She also asked me where she was born.

When we got into bed last night, she said, “Do we have children?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Two.” She asked me to tell her their names. It was said as if she were testing me and not seeking information for herself. It was clear as we talked that she really couldn’t remember. In a few moments, she asked me to tell her the names of our children again. Then again in another few minutes. When I tell her, she almost always follows that by saying how proud we are of them.

She asks the names of our children far more than any other names. As I have noted before, I take that as a measure of a mother’s love. She loves them dearly and is trying to hold on to their names as Alzheimer’s ravages her brain.

Perhaps because she has slept late recently, she has been quite talkative once we got into bed the past two nights. Her conversation (as it does during the day) focuses on the things she can remember – her mother and father, our marriage, and our children. She finds comfort in talking about these things. She talks mostly about our marriage, about our being well-matched, about our being meant for each other, that she would marry me again if she could, and that we have been so fortunate. I share her feelings. It makes me think of my parents and her parents. It was the same with them.

More Confusion, But a Good Day

Yesterday we went to Nashville to visit our friend, Ellen, who had a stroke three years ago next month. She had lived in Knoxville until that time. She had the stroke while visiting her daughter in Nashville and has never returned home. We try to visit about once a month. She is now living in a memory care facility. This is the fifth place she has lived since we started visiting her.

Kate got up a little later than I had wanted, so we ate lunch before leaving. When I hadn’t heard any signs that she was up, I went back to the bedroom to check on her. I discovered that she was up and taking a shower. I glanced in the bathroom door to see a mound of clothes on the floor in front of the shower. She often takes her clothes for the day into the bathroom while she showers. What was unusual this time was that she had a variety of clothes, mostly winter clothes. They also included four or five tops and a couple of pants. I came back to the kitchen. When I went back fifteen minutes later, she was sitting on the bed. The clothes that were previously on the floor of the bathroom were now on the bed. It turned out that she had everything but her underwear. I asked if she would like me to get them. She did. When I returned, she said, “Thank you, whatever your name is.” I asked if she would like me to tell her my name. She said yes, and I did. On the way to lunch, she asked my name. I told her and then said, “What is your name?” She took a moment to think and then answered correctly.

She was very quiet on the way to see Ellen. When we arrived, she said, “Does this place have a name?” I told her we were in Nashville and gave her the name of the facility. This way of asking for a name is becoming more frequent now. Mostly, she says, “Where are we?” She has a similar expression when we are at restaurants. She says, “Does this place serve food?” This is a sign that she is ready to eat and thinks the restaurant is taking too long. She has no concept of time, so usually, it hasn’t been long since we ordered that she asks the question. Sometimes it occurs right after the server has walked away after taking our order.

Our visit with Ellen was one of the best we have had. I wish I could say that is because Ellen has improved. That wasn’t the case. In fact, her speech seemed to be worse than the last time we visited a month ago. At the time of our first couple of visits almost three years ago it was very difficult to understand her at all. Over the next year, she improved a good bit, but I would say we were still unable to understand about a fourth of what she said. In February of this year, she had a couple of seizures. They affected her mobility and her speech. Yesterday we could understand very little of what she said.

We got off to a good start. When we walked into her room, Ellen was lying down on her bed. Although I know her daughter had told her we were coming, she had forgotten. She was quite surprised to see us and very emotional about our being there. I don’t know that I have mentioned that Ellen is a very outgoing, take charge kind of person who had many friends in Knoxville. Because so many of her friends are about her age and travel to Nashville is a bit much for many of them, she has had practically no visits from them. We know of only one other couple from Knoxville who has visited her. In addition, most of the others in her memory care unit are unable to converse much. She must be starved for conversation with friends.

It was interesting to watch Kate’s interaction with Ellen. She took much more initiative in the conversation than she has done previously. She brought up the fact that the two of them used to have lunch together every Monday while I was at Rotary. It is interesting that this memory has not disappeared. She remembers other things about our relationship with Ellen and her husband, Gordon, but only when I bring them up. The Monday lunch is more firmly embedded in her memory. Something else was different about Kate yesterday. There were quite a few times when Ellen struggled getting her words out. In almost every instance, Kate tried to encourage her. She said, “Just relax. Take your time. You’ll get it.”

After we had been there a good while, I asked Ellen if the staff played much music for the residents. She said they didn’t. I suspect she just doesn’t remember. Ellen had been a choir director for almost 40 years. She was also a singer and played the piano. We began to talk about music. I mentioned that I remembered her son’s singing “Danny Boy” at a piano recital when our children were taking lessons. Then I remembered that I had a recording of “Danny Boy” on my phone. I played it for her. All three of us enjoyed it. That led to my playing several other pieces. It was a nice interlude in our visit. The music was beautiful. Conversation for Ellen was challenging. We let the music speak for us. At one point, Ellen reached her hand out to Kate who clutched it. I could see tears in their eyes. It was a touching moment to watch and be a part of.

Not long after that one of the staff came in to get Ellen up for dinner. I asked if she knew Ellen was a musician. She didn’t know a thing about her background in music. When I told her she was surprised. She said she was glad to know and would pass that along to the activities director so that she could take advantage of that. I wonder how many people in places like this are not fully appreciated because the people working there have no knowledge of who they were before their memory problems. I suspect this is true for most.

We left Ellen’s and went directly to dinner before driving back home. We stopped at McCormick and Schmick’s. As we waited for our meal, Kate looked across at me, put her hands around her mouth like a megaphone, and mouthed the words “I love you.” I told her I love her too. Then she said, “Tell me your name.”

The ride home was unusual. Normally, we drive this distance with very few words. I usually play music that I know Kate will enjoy. Last night, she was talkative. In fact, we talked most of the way back home. It got its start as we were leaving the restaurant. Our daughter, Jesse, called to check in. She updated us on her family’s recent trip to Florida. Kate was happy to hear from her and to know they had a good trip with the family. That must have prompted her to think about the good things in our lives. She talked about our marriage and how fortunate we are to have found each other. She talked about both of our children. I reminded her that our son, Kevin, and his family have just returned from an exciting trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. It makes both of us happy to see our children enjoying life and moments like these with their children.

As we neared our home, Kate said she was tired. Then she mentioned she wanted “to do some work” before going to bed. She quickly added, “You know the kind of work I mean.” I did know, working on jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. We had had another good day.

Living With Alzheimer’s

I’ve had several experiences over the past month or two that have caused me to reflect a little more seriously about our experience with Alzheimer’s. Three books, I’m Still Here, The Dementia Handbook, and Mike and Me have been especially important to me. In their own unique ways, the authors of each of these books has called attention to the importance of our putting emphasis on the things that people with dementia can do rather than those they can’t do. That is, we all recognize that people with dementia lose their memory and ability to organize tasks. Frequently, we act as though all is lost when memory goes. Those of us who are caregivers know that just isn’t so. Kate is a prime example of that. She has very little memory for names (that includes hers and mine at times), places, dates, etc. This does not keep her from enjoying life. That’s because most pleasures in life don’t require a knowledge of “the facts.”

This is a good place for an example. Earlier this week, Kate and I had ice cream at Marble Slab. Each of us picked one of their recommended combinations. We were both happy with we got. I can’t tell you the name of the one I had, nor exactly what was in it, but I enjoyed it. The next time we are there I’ll order the same thing because I will remember it when I see the picture and name posted above the selection of ice creams. Kate won’t be able to remember that, but I can remember for her. I like this particular illustration because it recognizes the fact that remembering names and other facts can be very important, but it also illustrates the distinction between having a pleasurable experience from knowing “the facts.”

Until recently, I hadn’t fully understood this. All I knew was that after Kate’s diagnosis, we decided to make the most of our time together. I acted on this decision by arranging for us to attend many musical and theatrical performances as well as movies. You might even say we have “binged” on these things. In addition, I decided early on that I didn’t want to fix all the meals and clean up afterwards. That led to our eating out for all our meals. I made the choice thinking only of convenience and that it would give us more time together. What I didn’t anticipate was what a social opportunity that would provide. It’s been a life saver. When we added Panera in the morning, that gave us another social opportunity. Ultimately, we added Barnes & Noble as another place to camp out during the afternoon. These days we average about 2-3 hours at home during the day. The only extended time we have at home is after dinner, and it has become a very special time.

So where does that leave us. Well, despite the fact that Kate has continued to decline over the past 7 ½ years since her diagnosis, we are still leading full and active lives. How can that be? I certainly didn’t expect it to be this way. I’m sure that I don’t fully understand why; however, I do believe our strategy for living with Alzheimer’s has played a significant role in our success. I thank Judy Cornish (The Dementia Handbook) for helping me understand this.

For those who have not heard me explain her approach to dementia, let me do it now. She distinguishes between two kinds of thought processes, “rational” and “intuitive.” I’m not sure she would agree, but I tend to think of them as two types of abilities rather than ways of thinking. Rational abilities involve knowing the facts (the names of people, places, things, events) as well as the sequence of steps involved in doing many ordinary things like following a recipe. These are the abilities that PWD lose first. In fact, problems with rational abilities are what lead people to get a diagnosis in the first place. Intuitive abilities involve our senses. Unlike rational abilities, they are retained for a much longer time. Indeed, they often last well into the later stages of he disease. As it turns out, the very things that Kate and I have chosen to focus on are ones that depend on our senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell). Kate’s intuitive abilities have remained intact. We are just fortunate that our passion was not playing bridge. That would have depended heavily on her rational abilities. Instead, the things we’ve enjoyed most are those that can be appreciated directly through the senses.

Our experience raises a question that I will address next time. How well would our strategy work for other couples living with Alzheimer’s?

This time I got the right answer.

You may recall that I recently mentioned we had had a strange experience at dinner last Saturday night. I told her about an experience I had had several years ago when I served on a pastor nominating committee at our church. Kate said, “You know what I’m thinking?” I didn’t and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t. She said, “You know.” I assured her I didn’t and asked her to tell me. That upset her. She said, “Just forget it.”

At Panera yesterday, she asked the same question. This time it wasn’t in the context of something I was saying. We had both been silent when she said, “You know what I’m thinking?” This time I took a moment to carefully consider my answer. Then I said, “That you’re glad we got married.” She smiled and said, “That’s it.” I said, “Me too.”

I felt like I had scored a victory. She often says that she is glad she married me. That is why I guessed correctly this time. I think I missed it the previous time because it followed something I had told her. The context in which she asks her questions is often relevant to understanding what she is thinking. If I can’t figure out what she wants, she doesn’t help me. She just gives up. I wish I always said the right thing. I guess that is too much  to ask for.

Another Good Day

It really makes me happy to say we had another good day yesterday. First, Kate was up in just as good a mood as she did the day before. She was alert and cheerful from the beginning to the end of the day. She was also up a little earlier. I liked that because it gave us more time together.

She always enjoys watching children wherever we go. That is another pleasure deriving from her intuitive abilities. There are limits, however. She loves watching them play and explore their surroundings. She is taken with the things they say, especially when they express they wants to their parents. She was enjoying one little boy who wanted to run around. The mother tried to restrain him. That was cute until the boy screamed. Kate finds screams or any sudden noise startling and offensive. When the boy screamed, she jerked in her chair and said, “Now that’s not cute.”

We had lunch at the Bluefish Grill. It is almost 25 minutes away from where we live. On the drive, I always play music that I think she will enjoy. Yesterday I played selected songs from Les Miserables. Once again, she loved it. I played another album on the way back. She loved it as well.

We spent almost two hours at home after lunch. Kate went through an old photo book of her family. Then she worked jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. Of course, I had music that we both enjoy playing all the time. It was a pleasant time. Then she was ready to leave the house. We don’t often stay here for more than a couple of hours. There was still a good while before dinner, so I took her to Marble Slab for ice cream. We had stopped there earlier in the week. It is next to Panera, and we love ice cream. It’s surprising that we hadn’t been there in almost three years. I don’t intend to wait so long again. Then we went to Barnes & Noble where we remained until dinner.

We had a strange at dinner. I told her about an experience I had had several years ago when I served on a pastor nominating committee at our church. Kate said, “You know what I’m thinking?” I didn’t and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t. She said, “You know.” I assured her I didn’t and asked her to tell me. That upset her. She said, “Just forget it.” We went on with our conversation and had a good time.

She was unusually talkative last night. She talked mostly about us and our marriage, how happy we had been, how well-matched we are. That continued after we got home. She talked about how comfortable she felt with me and how much she liked being with me no matter what we are doing. I told her I felt exactly the same way about her.

I am happy to hear her talking and being so expressive. At the same time, I keep wondering about what is motivating her right now. I sense that she feels her world is getting smaller. She remembers fewer things, and that increases the value of the things she does know and can appreciate. That leads to the conclusion of our day.

We had started watching a DVD of Sound of Music the previous night. We had only watched about forty-five minutes of it before she was sleepy. We watched another hour of it last night. She loved Julie Andrews and talked about her looks, smile, and singing but couldn’t remember her name. She repeatedly asked me her name. I reminded her of the time she was at the Jeu de Paume and saw Julie with her daughter. She had no memory at all.

She loved the scenery in the movie as well as the acting. She was talking during the movie. At one point, she said, “I know this is silly, but I feel like God sent you to me.” I said, “I know what you mean. I feel the same way about you.”

A few minutes later, she said, “You know, you give me energy.” It didn’t last though. She was sleepy. We decided to stop the movie right there and pick it up tonight. She had had a good day. So had I.

Enjoying Special Moments and the Power of Music

Yesterday afternoon, I was reading an author’s essay describing why she had written a book after losing her mother to Alzheimer’s. She said that she wanted to lead others toward happiness that one often misses because of the sadness that is also a part of the journey. She felt she had let that sadness prevent her from fully appreciating the “happy moments.”

Her words made me think of another experience Kate and I had with music a little bit earlier. We returned home from lunch. We sat down in the family room, and I put on an album of the last half of Les Miserables. Since we had seen the DVD and listened to the audio over the past few days, I intended to select one or two songs that I knew were among Kate’s favorites. Once it started, I saw that she was taken by it and just let it play through to the end. Initially, she was working jigsaw puzzles on her iPad. Then she became more engaged in the music, and put the iPad down. I could see that she was moved. She said, “It’s so beautiful.” I agreed. Before the end of the finale, tears welled up in her eyes. She got up from her chair and walked over to sit beside me on the sofa. She was crying, not out of any sadness. She was solely moved by the beauty of the music. I put my arm around her. She put her head on my shoulder. We savored the last notes.

We sat quietly for a moment. I decided to put on another album I thought she would like. One by John Rutter. We continued to sit there another fifteen minutes enjoying the music. As I have said before, we have both enjoyed music together since our first date, but I believe the pleasure she derives from music has increased substantially. I am glad that we continue to enjoy happy moments like this. They have been able to override the sadness that I sometimes feel.