Another Christmas Celebration

The Christmas season has always been special for Kate and me. This year is no exception. Kate, of course, can’t have the same perspective. She doesn’t recognize it as a season, but that doesn’t take away from her pleasure. She enjoys each individual experience even if she can’t recognize and remember that it is the Christmas season. I know that we may not be able to enjoy the season in the same way next year, so I am savoring every moment and trying to make each one special.

We attended our first Christmas event the last of November with a luncheon with the seniors at our church. Since returning from Texas, we have played a lot of Christmas music and watched quite a number of Christmas concerts on YouTube. In addition, a good bit of the music I play at home is music of the season. Last Thursday at opera night at Casa Bella, one part of the program featured Christmas music. We were back at Casa Bella on Monday night for their annual Christmas dinner that also included a program of music. We will attend jazz night tonight. I am sure we will hear more of the same music in a different style.

Everything we have experienced until last night has involved traditional music. We joined friends at the Flat Rock Playhouse in North Carolina for a Christmas program featuring Asleep at the Wheel. Quite honestly, I had never heard of the group until a couple of months ago when a couple we met at Broadway night told us about them. Knowing that Kate is from Texas, they thought it would be something they would enjoy. I was hesitant but accepted their invitation thinking that Kate might like it and that it would be a good social occasion for both of us. I am glad I did.

For those of you who, like me, haven’t known about this band before, I should let you know that they are an Austin, Texas, band that has been around since 1970. Ironically, they started in West Virginia. They have won 10 Grammy awards over that time and have had quite a number of big hits and albums. Like all the other groups of that age, they have only one of the original members with them, their lead singer. The other members are all on the young side. That adds a good bit of vitality and quality to their performance, but it is still a classic Texas-style band. Even when they play traditional Christmas music, it has a Texas flavor.

Given that description, you might expect that it is not my kind of music, and I would say that it isn’t the kind of music that I would play at home. On the other hand, Kate and I loved it. We found the group to be very likeable personally and the rhythm of the music engaging. I found myself tapping my feet throughout the performance. Every time I looked at Kate, she was smiling. It was a good night to let your hair down and enjoy the season.

This will go down as a unique Christmas event for us and an interesting complement to the other seasonal events we are enjoying. It was also another reminder of the power of music to stir one’s emotions. The night before we had watched a memorial service with Itzhak Perlman and the Pittsburgh Symphony. They were honoring the memory of those killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue. It was a moving performance. The emotions aroused by that concert were quite a contrast with those we experienced last night. No wonder music has such impact. It has the ability to stir so many different feelings. It has touched our lives in many ways, and I expect it to do so in the future.

Signs of Christmas

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas. Our neighbors across the street started their decorating the week after Thanksgiving. When we returned from Texas, we noticed that the neighbors next door and one other put theirs up while we were gone. The past couple of years I haven’t done anything except to join all the neighbors in putting up a tree near the street in the front yard. All of us do that every year.

This could very well be the last Christmas that Kate and I will celebrate in a typical way. I felt like we should do more than in the past few years. I discovered that the wife of the man who has been helping to clean up the dead shrubs around the house is a former florist and decorator. I engaged her to put up greenery with red bows outside in each of the front windows. She also put garlands with white lights down the railings on either side of the front porch. I showed her some of the other decorations that Kate has used in the past. She use those along with a few new things and decorated our family room and the bay window in the kitchen. It is not elaborate but attractive. Kate was happy with what she had done. So was I.

Our church sponsored a Christmas luncheon for seniors that we attended yesterday. We were supposed to be at church at 11:15 to catch a bus to the restaurant where it was held. That made me a little nervous since it can easily be 11:30 or noon before Kate can get ready. Fortunately, that was not a problem. I woke her around 9:30. She got up easily, and we were there in plenty of time. I was happy about that because we have been very irregular in our church attendance for at least a year. I believe it is good for both of us to maintain our ties. This luncheon was a good opportunity with a group of people we have known for a long time.

Kate handled herself well as usual. After we arrived, I left Kate with a couple of friends while I went to a table to make name tags for us. I was gone only a short time when I noticed that she was looking around the room. I knew she was looking for me. I walked over to her. She said, “I didn’t know where you were.” The only thing I know that she couldn’t handle was how to answer a woman’s question as to where she lives. She turned to me and asked me to tell her. This was a woman we don’t know well and probably doesn’t know about Kate’s Alzheimer’s. She must have thought it strange. We had a brief conversation with another woman Kate didn’t remember. The woman said she had trouble with names herself. Then Kate proceeded to tell her she has the same problem. She went on to describe how she turns to me, points to someone she should remember, and asks me the person’s name.

We came back home after lunch. Kate rested for about almost an hour before we left to get our hair cut. They cut Kate’s hair first and then mine. Kate worked on her iPad while I was getting my hair cut. When I was through and ready to leave, she was in the middle of a puzzle and wanted to finish. I sat down with my iPad and did a little reading. The next thing I knew thirty minutes had passed. I asked if she were ready to leave. She said she wasn’t. She had gotten comfortable and was enjoying herself in much the same way she does at Panera or Barnes & Noble. I waited a few more minutes and then told her I thought it was time to go.

From there, we went to Target where I was looking for a hanger for the wreath for our front door. They didn’t have what I needed, but Kate walked very patiently through the store with me and back to the car.

It was getting close to dinner time, so we went to eat before going back home. We had a nice dinner. Then we returned home and relaxed until 9:00 when we started getting ready for bed.

Kate’s brother and his wife arrive from Texas this afternoon. As we left the restaurant last night, I reminded her of that. As I expected, she hadn’t remembered and asked their names. We went through them a couple of times. Then she asked when they were coming. When I told her this afternoon, she asked, “Where are they staying?” I told her they were staying in a hotel near us. She had a look of relief as she realized she didn’t have to do anything to get the house ready. I was pleased to see that. It is one of the few signs I have seen suggesting that she might feel some responsibility for taking care of things like that. Something similar happened yesterday afternoon. We drove up to our house, and I said, “Look at all the leaves, and (the person who cuts the grass) was just here last week.” Kate said, “I guess I’ll have to get out and rake them.” She has done a little raking in the past but never often. I was surprised that she assumed it would be her responsibility.

Halloween on Our Street

Kate and I moved into our present house 21 years ago this past July. Not long after that, I chatted with some neighbors while I was out walking. They asked if anyone had told me about Halloween. I told them I hadn’t, so they proceeded to inform me. I don’t recall any specific numbers, but I was surprised to learn that we get a lot of trick-or-treaters. We got very few at our previous houses, and the last one was only a quarter of a mile from the new house.

Since that time, we have discovered just how big a deal Halloween can be. During our first year or two we had around 200, but each year it has grown. Last night, we set a new record with almost 850 children who stopped by the house before we ran out of candy at 8:15. You might think that’s a lot, but it’s far from a record on our street. Our neighbor across from us said they had around 1200. They had more candy and continued until after 9:00.

We may not have the highest total number of trick-or-treaters, but we’re the only ones serving water. Yes, that’s right. I said “water.” This is something about which Kate has taken great satisfaction over the years. As we were making plans the first year, she said, “I’ll make sure to have plenty of water.” I said, “Water? I can’t believe kids would like that. They’re after anything with sugar in it.” She insisted. We had water, and to my surprise, it was well-received. As the number of visitors increased, I decided to buy a 5-gallon cooler for the water. Even with that, we have to refill it once or twice. After running out of candy last year, we had up to 20 people at a time waiting in line for water. That would have happened last night if we hadn’t run out of cups, 350 of them. We refilled the cooler twice. We dispensed about 11-12 gallons of water, so I am acknowledging to all that Kate was right. There really is a market for water – even on Halloween night. You don’t suppose that it was Kate who provided that knowledge to all those companies that bottle and sell it everywhere we go?

As you might expect, all this requires a little planning and coordination. Our first year in the house, I realized we were going to run out of candy very early and quickly went back to Target for more. We still didn’t have enough. We also learned that it made no sense to stay in the house and wait for the doorbell to ring. We found it much easier and efficient to sit outside. Kate tends to the water and I give out the candy. Of course, there are times when I have to go back inside to replenish our supply. Sometimes Kate would be alone for a few minutes when a large number would arrive at the same time.

Although it’s been almost eight years since Kate’s diagnosis, last year was the first time I felt that she had any trouble with her role as the “Water Lady.” I suspected then that this year would be different, and it was. For several months, I had planned to get someone to help me and just let Kate enjoy the children. About six weeks ago, I discovered that a couple that has been helping us with some landscaping goes all out for Halloween. The husband told me he and his wife had heard about the large turnout we have on our street and wondered if his wife and daughter could come to the house to see first hand what it is like. I told him that would be great and that I could put them to work. That worked perfectly. The daughter took charge of giving out the candy, and  her mother assisted with the water. Kate started out the evening by filling the cups with water. She was very slow. Ultimately, I started filling the cups. I was also in charge of replenishing both water and candy as needed.

Kate got cold and wanted to go inside. That left my two helpers and me to take care of things which wasn’t a problem. It’s just that I was hoping Kate would derive more pleasure from being with us. I felt this was her last time to be a part of things. I doubt seriously that she is likely to participate at all next year. Perhaps, the saddest part for me is that she never seemed to recognize that she was behind our having water in the first place. She used to have fun reminding me that it was her idea, and that I was wrong about its popularity. Last night she expressed very little enthusiasm for the entire affair. She did enjoy seeing the children for a while but tired of that much earlier than I would have expected.

So it was a successful night for trick-or-treating but also sad to think that this long-standing tradition will not be the same again.

Music Speaks Again

As expected, opera night at Casa Bella was outstanding. The two singers were unusually good. I don’t mean to take away from the singers we normally have. They are graduate students from the music school at UT. Last night, the soprano and the baritone have sung with opera companies in Europe. As you might expect, they were truly outstanding. The crowd, including Kate and me, loved them.

It had been three weeks since we had been together with the couple we sit with regularly. It was good to see them. Two other people sat with us. We had known each of them from other places around town, so it was also a nice social occasion as well. We also saw several other people we know from other musical circles.

Once again, the power of music spoke loudly. With all the changes that Kate is experiencing lately, music still has great impact. I am optimistic that it will be with us for a good while to come.

A Special Anniversary Lunch In Asheville

Kate and I have celebrated our anniversary in Asheville many times. It comes around Memorial Day, and there are always interesting things happening while we are here. When we were here last year, I wasn’t sure that Kate would be back this year. As with so many things, she has surprised me, so I made plans just a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad we made it one more time.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that Kate and I have a daily routine when we are at home in Knoxville. Apart from our morning visit to Panera for Kate’s blueberry muffin, we know the restaurants where will be eating for lunch and dinner each day of the week. That routine has created an interesting and very supportive network of people. We find that we are drawn to the various restaurants more for the social reasons than for the food itself.

That leads me to tell you about a special relationship we have developed with a server here in Asheville. We met her at lunch several years ago, when she was working at one of our favorite places. On a later trip, we went to lunch at a different restaurant. It turned out she had moved to that restaurant, and she remembered us. Since that time, we have made it a point to eat There each time we visit the city and, of course, ask for Melissa.

The last time we were here was in December. I mentioned that we might see her again at the end of May, but I was doubtful. She asked for our home address and sent us a Christmas card with a very nice note attached. I was touched by that and intended to write her a note telling how much her note had meant, but I lost the address. I decided I should call the restaurant to get it but never got around to it. Then as our anniversary date got closer, I thought about making the trip back to Asheville to see her as well as Jenny who works at the front desk at the Haywood Park Hotel where we always stay.

Two weeks ago, I called the restaurant and learned that Melissa had changed to another restaurant in town. It’s another place we have eaten a number of times over the years. I called and left a message for Melissa to text me. She did, and we arranged for this year’s visit.

Our lunch turned out to be the highlight of the day, not because of the food (which was excellent) but because of Melissa. I should add that we have established relationships with servers in a number of restaurants in Knoxville. That is not surprising given that we see them so frequently, most of them once a week. This bonding with Melissa is unique in that we are here only two or three times a year at the most, and I don’t know that we will ever be back. What I do know is that it is possible for people to connect in a special way even in something as fleeting as a “server/guest” relationship. Melissa and other servers who have been so kind to us may never know how much they add to our lives.

Postscript: We discovered that she and her husband’s anniversary was also yesterday. It’s just two years for her, but I hope our 55 years together will be an inspiration for her.

Preparing For and Enjoying Time with Friends

Kate got up earlier this morning but late enough that we were a little short of time before meeting a group of friends at 11:00. We squeezed in just enough time for get Kate’s muffin. As she was eating, I reminded her that we were going to a birthday celebration today. As I had expected, she hadn’t remembered. I explained that this was a group of friends who had been faculty colleagues at the middle where she had been the media specialist for about ten years. Several of them had January birthdays and used to celebrate together. It had been five years since our last time together; so I had arranged for us to do it this year.

Kate asked me to tell her who would be there. I went through each of the six other people besides ourselves. In a moment, she asked again. After that she said, “You might have to tell me again.” She then asked me how we knew these people. I reminded her of the school connection.

Then she asked me to tell her who our children are. As she did the other day, it sounded like she really knew and just wanted to practice names. I told her their names. Then I proceeded to tell her the names of the grandchildren. After that she said, “Where are we right now?” I asked if she “meant this place.” She nodded, and I said, “Panera.” When we got in the car she asked, “Where are we?” I asked if she meant the city. She did, and I told her. As we neared the home of the couple hosting the event, she asked me the names if the people we would see. I told her and also told her I didn’t think she would have to worry about knowing each person’s name, that everyone would assume she knew them. I may be imputing too much, but she looked a little apprehensive as we arrived at the house.

We were greeted by three people at the front door. From that point, everything went well. Kate’s gift for social interaction came to the rescue. I suspect that everyone was surprised at how well she seems to be doing. There was a lot of conversation before, during, and after the meal. Kate was not very talkative, but neither was I. Several of the others are big talkers, and there was a lot of reminiscing of experiences they had shared in their teaching careers.

There were only two things that Kate said that would have been signs of her Alzheimer’s. The woman hosting us had prepared a spaghetti casserole that was a recipe of Kate’s mother’s. We talked briefly about that early in the meal. Fifteen or twenty minutes after that as we were talking about foods that we liked, Kate said, “I wish you could have had my mother’s spaghetti casserole.” I had informed everyone of Kate’s diagnosis before we got together; so they didn’t say anything to make her realize that was something we talked about before.

The other thing was that Kate told them about a school at which she had taught. As she described it, I knew that she was talking about the school where each of them had taught together. I was a bit uncomfortable as she was talking because I knew that some of the things she said weren’t true. I am sure everyone realized that she was confused.

What I will take away from this gathering is that Kate handled herself very well, and we both enjoyed ourselves. I still can’t escape the sense that she is changing significantly and hoping that she will be able to function well in social situations for a good while to come.

Trip Report

We returned home just before 7:00 p.m. tonight after spending three nights in Fort Worth. As I have suggested in other posts while we were gone, I am very glad we made the trip. Kate enjoyed seeing her extended family. She didn’t, and still doesn’t, remember most of the names, but she has a strong emotional tie to her family. In recent years, as her short-term memory has faded away, much of her conversation with others has drifted toward family. Most of that has been about her mother but has included her father and her extended family. I didn’t imagine her having another opportunity to share special moments with them. While it is unfortunate that this one was prompted by her cousin Chester’s death, it is in times of loss that family ties seem especially important. In this respect, the weekend could not have been better.

Travel is, however, demanding for Kate, and I must admit something of a challenge for me as well. I envision that it is a combination of these things that will ultimately cause us to curtail it. For Kate, there is a certain amount of pressure or stress in being in strange places and with large numbers of people she doesn’t remember. She made it through Saturday beautifully. At the visitation on Saturday evening, one of her extended family members and I noticed her in conversation with another member of the family. She appeared to be an equal participant in the conversation. I suspect she didn’t know who she was talking with, but I am sure he conveyed either directly or indirectly that he is part of the family. She obviously was quite comfortable with him. This is also true for her with most people, especially if their interaction is brief.

Nonetheless, it requires a lot of effort to “perform” in this way. She has been very tired the past two days. She went to bed around 8:30 Saturday night. I had to wake her up at 10:00 Sunday morning so that we could meet several family members for a lunch to celebrate Kate’s 77th birthday. She didn’t want to get up, but she did. Slowly, but she got up, and we arrived in ample time for her celebration.

I had originally planned to stay in Fort Worth last night. Knowing that it is sometimes difficult for her to get going in the morning, I changed my mind and made reservations in a hotel near the airport in Dallas. That way there would be less rushing to make our flight at 12:15. That turned out to be a wise decision. She was asleep by 8:00 last night, and she slept until 9:00 when I woke her up this morning. Although she would have preferred to stay in bed, she was very cooperative in getting up, and we were able to leave for the airport at 10:00. That gave us time to get something to eat before our flight.

Everything else went smoothly on the way home. We arrived a few minutes early in Atlanta, and our flight from Atlanta to Knoxville was right on time. We stopped by Chalupas to get a bite to eat before coming home. It was almost 7:00 p.m. when we got to the house. I went back to our bedroom around 7:15. Kate was already in bed. She was wearing a robe that was inside-out as happens a good bit. Using hand signals, she asked me to get her a night gown. I brought one to her. She stood up to take off the robe and put the gown on. I started to unpack some things and noticed that she was putting on the robe again, the right way, and had not put on her gown. I mentioned it, and she put the gown on.

That kind of confusion is common, but I believe travel adds an extra measure of confusion because of the unfamiliar surroundings, especially when we are moving from one unfamiliar place to another as people do when they travel. She often asks where we are when we travel. That was different this time. I only recall two times that she asked, “Where are we?” One of those was at dinner at the hotel in Dallas last night. The other was when we got off the plane in Knoxville and were walking to baggage claim. As many times as we have walked through that airport, she didn’t recognize it.

It is impossible for me to understand how stressful travel is for her because she never talks about it. I don’t know how much of this relates to her general preference not to dwell on her Alzheimer’s or if she really doesn’t sense the stress. I believe it is the latter. I think she forgets she has Alzheimer’s except when it comes up at one of her doctor’s appointments. That makes me think that at the very least she doesn’t connect her diagnosis with her experiences.

For me, the most challenging aspect of travel involves airports. That includes going through security. I find myself focusing on getting all the things that need to go through the scanner unloaded and then putting those things back on or in my clothes on the other side. Kate is often confused by the instructions given by the personnel; so I have to watch for that. It is hard enough for me to remember to take everything of mine that has been scanned. Now I have to make sure I have her things as well.

I wish the security check were the most difficult part of travel for me. It is not. It is changing planes in Atlanta that is the challenge. I fear losing her as I did the other day. I can’t tell you how stressful that was. There are so many people and places that it is very hard to find someone.

Another concern is use of the restroom. It takes her a long time in the bathrooms at home, but in an airport there is a substantial challenge. I have already identified family restrooms in the Atlanta airport and may soon try those.

One additional issue with travel is getting from one place to another in a timely fashion. She has only one speed, and it is very slow. At home, I can control much of this because I try to avoid as many specific time commitments as I can. That works pretty well. When we are traveling, you have flight schedules that are not flexible. In addition, when other people are involved, it often involves a set time to meet. This always means planning in advance to make sure we are on time or reasonably close.

When you add up all these things, and I am not beginning to remember the many little things that come up when traveling, I can see why some people stop traveling long before we have. Even with that, I am not ready to call it quits. I still want to make at least one more trip to Texas. If that one is half as successful as the one we just took, I might think about another. My head tells me that it is unlikely that we will do any more airline travel after the next six months, but my head has been wrong before. I hope it will be once again.

Kate’s 77th Birthday

Yesterday was Kate’s birthday, and I hadn’t envisioned much of a celebration since we were in Fort Worth for the memorial service and related events surrounding the passing of her cousin, Chester. It turned out, however, that we didn’t have anything scheduled until the family gathered together at 1:30 before the service at 2:00. Kate’s cousin Sharon asked if she could take Kate to lunch as a birthday treat. Together we turned that into a larger gathering to include Kate’s brother, Ken, and his wife, Virginia, as well as our son Kevin’s family. It was a special treat to have another cousin of Kate’s who is from Massachusetts. She hasn’t attended as many family gatherings over the years, and it was nice to visit with her.

Sharon made arrangements for lunch at a restaurant that was close to the church. The lunch turned out to be a perfect way to recognize Kate who hadn’t remembered it was her birthday. Ken and Virginia got us off to a good start by ordering Saganaki, a Greek flaming appetizer. That started the celebration with a little flare, or should I say flame. All of us got out our cameras/phones to capture the flames. That was followed by lots of visiting and good food. It was special for her to share those moments with people who are so special to her. When we got in the car to drive to the church, I said, “Happy Birthday.” Kate said, “Oh, is it my birthday? I didn’t know.”

We met in the Franklin Center of the Methodist church where Kate’s family had been members for so long. Her grandparents’ home had stood on a portion of the property now occupied by the church. The Center has a display of some of the things from the home. Kate loved looking at these things as if for the first time. In her mind it was exactly that.

It was a beautiful service and especially moving for Kate. Family has always been important to her, and Chester was significant for a number of reasons. He had remained in Fort Worth as the rest of the family had made their way to other places. Family was very important to him. We saw him as someone who kept the family memories alive in the place where Kate’s grandparents had made their mark in the early part of the twentieth century. Chester had also been very active in the community in a variety of ways. The church was packed to honor him.

Following the service we spent a little time with Ken and Virginia. Then they went back to their home in San Angelo. We checked into a hotel near the airport for our flight out shortly after noon today. Kate is sleeping soundly. I will probably wake her in another hour or so. I would like to leave for the airport around 10:00. As we leave today, I am feeling good that Kate has had this time with the larger family. That is not something I had thought would happen. She won’t remember it, but each moment meant a lot to her.


Celebrating the Life of Kate’s Cousin

Our first day back in Fort Worth was a day filled with reunions with family, some we hadn’t seen in many years and a few we had never met. We were brought together to celebrate the life of Kate’s cousin, Chester Hendricks. We attended a private graveside service with family on a cold morning that was offset by the warmth of this family reunion. As someone who came from a very small family, my mother, father, and brother and a few others whom we rarely saw, I’ve always been struck by the emotional ties that bind the Franklin family together. Today’s gathering brought back memories of the early days when I was introduced to the family. By now, of course, those who were the senior generation are no longer with us, and the rest of us have spread to other places.

When we first heard the news of Chester’s passing, I knew this was a time for Kate to be with family. Chester was four years older than Kate, but they had grown up together and shared many family times. Despite the challenges of travel with Kate, yesterday’s experience confirmed that coming back was the right thing to do.

At the graveside service, about half of the family were seated under the canopy while others gathered around the edges. Kate and her cousin, Sharon Billings, took a seat. I started to join them but did not because I didn’t want to disturb the two oldest members of the family who were seated in two chairs I would have had to go through. As the minister made his remarks, I noticed that Kate was wiping tears from her eyes. Sharon reached in her purse for a tissue and then put her arm around Kate. There have only been a few occasions when I have seen Kate cry. She was obviously very moved. I felt a need to be beside her and made my way to her side.

I can never know exactly what she is thinking or feeling. I do know that she can’t remember most of the family who were in attendance or even that we are in Fort Worth. On the other hand, she understands she is with family, and, in that moment, she remembered Chester. While that emotion lasted only for the duration of the service, it was clear that she was saddened. Her tears brought back moments at Christmas when we were in Lubbock with Kevin’s family. She seemed to be experiencing a sense of melancholy as she reflected on the past.

Chester was buried in the family plot. After the service, Kate and I walked around to see the headstones of some of the other family members who are buried there. We lingered over those of her mother and father and an infant daughter who died two years before Kate was born. She didn’t remember the infant daughter’s death. Over the past few years she had talked about that daughter’s passing and that it was something she had not realized as a child. I pointed out the two spaces where our ashes are to be buried.

The family gathered for lunch at one of Chester’s favorite barbeque places. Then we returned to the hotel until 3:45 when we met Kevin and his family at a nearby Panera. We came back to the hotel to meet Ken and Virginia and one of Kate’s cousins, Ethel Longfort. From there we attended Chester’s visitation. There was a much larger crowd than the family we had been with earlier in the day. There were literally hundreds there to pay their respects to Chester who had been very active in business, church, and civic affairs in Fort Worth for all of his adult life. It had been a very good day. I am so glad Kate was able to be here.

Christmas in Lubbock

We had a very nice Christmas Day. It was special in several ways. This was Brian’s first Christmas at home as a college student. It was also the first time that Kate’s brother, Ken, and his wife, Virginia, had joined us for Christmas dinner. Rachel’s parents, Linda and Scott Livingston, who live in a small town outside of Lubbock also joined us. It was hard for me to get out of my mind the thought that this might very well be the last Christmas that Kate and I will be here. As noted in my earlier posts, the way things are going so far I suspect it will not be possible (or wise) to bring her back two years from now. I am not even sure that we will make it to Memphis to be with Jesse’s family next year. My only regret is that we didn’t get to spend more time with Virginia and Ken. I’m already thinking about the possibility of another trip to see them in the spring.

It is very difficult for Kate to follow what is happening in a group situation like this. She responds by being quiet and tuning out on much that is going on. She continues to have difficulty remembering that we are in Lubbock. She pulled me aside at the gathering today to ask, “Where do these people (our son and his family) live?” Although she doesn’t say much, I do think she enjoys being in the company of family, especially for Christmas.

We started the day earlier than previous days. Kate was ready for breakfast by 8:00. I had brought breakfast back to the room for myself a few minutes after 7:00. We went back to the breakfast area where Kate had some juice and yogurt. We were there about forty-five minutes before she wanted to go to Panera. We did, but it was no surprise that they were closed. We came back to the hotel until time to leave for Kevin’s house. We were there just before 10:00.

Everyone chipped in to make the Christmas dinner. As usual, we had plenty to eat and good conversation. Kate’s brother and his wife as well as Rachel’s parents left not too long after dinner. We spent the remainder of the day relaxing. Kate worked on her iPad while I watched a little football. We also played a game or two. Kate didn’t participate in the games. She was happy with her iPad. Before coming back to the hotel, we enjoyed some of the leftovers. It was a nice Christmas.