Friday, we drove to Raleigh to visit with our friends, Dot and Reggie Stone. The trip seemed like a long one. Of course, it was compared to our typical trip to Nashville. We ran into a good bit of construction. It took us almost an hour longer than usual, but it didn’t seem to bother Kate. She was quite relaxed. I should add that she is usually peaceful in a car. That is one of the reasons I started our Saturday and Sunday lunches at restaurants that are 20-25 minutes from our house. I’m not sure how much she slept, but her eyes were closed most of the way to Raleigh. She talked very little.
I am trying to be especially sensitive to her response to this trip. In some ways, it is a test of our ability to make our planned trip to Texas for Thanksgiving with our son, Kevin, and his family. The other day he asked me if I thought we would be able to make it. I told him I would know more when we get back home Monday night.
I can see already that there is an extra amount of confusion that occurs when we travel. If she gets the least bit confused knowing where to go in our own home, you can imagine what it is like when we are in strange places. Nothing is the same. Not even the Paneras. <G> Yesterday morning I saw a tweet that indicated the length of short-term memory for someone well into dementia is 3 seconds. That’s a pretty good estimate for Kate, sometimes even less. This confusion means that she is asking “Where are we?” much more than at home.
Yesterday, we spent a good bit of time with Dot and Reggie. I prepared them for the fact that Kate often sleeps late and that I needed to be flexible regarding our meeting time. I was quite surprised when I got back to the room after breakfast to find that she was up and preparing for her shower. That was about 8:30. As I have done in the past, I made a sign telling her that we were in the Residence Inn in Raleigh, that I had gone to breakfast and would be “back soon.” This time it didn’t work. I put the sign right next to the clothes I had selected for her. I figured (incorrectly) that she would see the sign if she got up before my return. I was only gone about 20 minutes. When I asked if she had seen the sign, she said, “What sign?” I showed it to her. She had no recollection. I have no idea if she missed the sign or forgot that she had seen and read it. The good news is that she wasn’t worried that I was not there. Maybe the fact that she doesn’t see me when she gets up everyday has developed a comfort level. I don’t know. It’s another one of those things that is impossible to know. She can’t tell me how she felt, and I can’t get inside her brain to see for myself.
Because she was up early, we had a little time before meeting the Stones shortly for lunch after 11:30, so we stopped at a nearby Panera (of course). Between the time we left the hotel and the time we met Dot and Reggie, Kate continually asked me to tell her their names. I would tell her. She would try to repeat them. Then I would tell her again and so on. At one point, she got confused and thought we were also meeting our children, so she also asked their names. When I told her we wouldn’t see Kevin and Jesse, she was relieved. She seemed nervous enough about getting together with the Stones that adding the children seemed overwhelming. In situations like this, I almost always tell her that it isn’t important for her to remember the names, but she worries nonetheless.
It turned out we all had a good time and enjoyed good meals with a terrific tiramisu for dessert. It had been years since we had been together, but we picked up right where we left off.. It would be no surprise to people who know us that Dot and I talked more than Kate and Reggie, but I was pleased they contributed their part to the conversation as well.
After lunch, we went back to Dot and Reggie’s place. They have lived in a continuing care community for five years. I was interested in hearing about their decision, the move, and overall how they felt about being there. They have a very nice two-bedroom apartment overlooking a beautiful stand of trees. Kate and I both admired the view from their living room and the adjoining balcony.
I had not planned on our staying too long, but Kate seemed to be getting along so well that we were there until about 4:00. That’s a long time for Kate to stay engaged. By the time, we left she was tired. It was a successful visit. In a brief conversation with Reggie after lunch and an exchange of text messages last night with Dot, it looks like the Stone’s impression was similar to my own. I thought Kate engaged her social skills beautifully. I also think Dot did some things to bring Kate into the conversation. She showed us pictures from their wedding 25 years ago. It was interesting to see how young we all looked at that time. Kate was particularly drawn to pictures of their granddaughter. As I have mentioned before, she loves children, and the granddaughter is adorable. That’s a winning combination.
We came back to the room for little over an hour before going to dinner. We didn’t need much after our lunch, but that didn’t make any difference in our eating last night. Once again, we topped off the meal with a dessert. This time it was Key lime cheesecake.
Today we will meet Reggie for lunch. Dot has an obligation at church and will join us a little later. Then we’ll go to visit another friend whom Kate has known since our undergraduate days at TCU. We’ll have dinner with her this evening and return to Knoxville tomorrow.