Our Trip Home

Yesterday was a travel day for us. Kate made it easy by waking before 10:00. That allowed us to meet Jesse and her family at 11:30 at Panera to say our goodbyes. We visited while Kate and I had lunch. It was a nice way to end the visit, one that I believe was our last in Memphis.

It was cold and beautiful when we left and throughout the drive back to Knoxville. That made the drive an easy one. In addition, the traffic was not as heavy as I expected. We ran into one trouble spot. It must have been an accident. We were nearing an intersection and noticed two things. The traffic was coming to a stop and that some of the traffic in front of us was exiting the highway. We did the same. We stopped to get something to drink and checked my Waze app. It showed the problem spot and a path around it. We took it, and it worked. I’ve only used Waze a few times before. This time it really helped.

Our only other stop was in Memphis for an early dinner. That added another hour to the trip, but it was good to have a break. Kate didn’t say much on the entire drive home, but she was very relaxed and content.

We don’t have much on our agenda today. We get our hair cut this afternoon. It’s Thursday but not a night for music at Casa Bella. We’ll just relax. That’s probably a good thing.

I have already felt more at ease since being at home. There are always things to attend to with Kate, but they seem to increase when we are traveling. I’m just thankful we were able to make the trip and that it went so well.

Our Last Day in Memphis

On all our previous trips to see Jesse and her family we have gotten up early, or at least not late, on Christmas morning. That meant “really” early when the children were younger. As they’ve grown older, we have been ready to open presents between 8:00 and 10:00. This year was clearly different. Ron and Randy knew all the presents they were going to receive, so there were no surprises in store. In addition, Kate’s sleeping pattern caused us to get together whenever she was ready. Since we were not eating our Christmas meal until 5:00, I let Kate sleep as long as she wanted. She got up close to 1:30, and we arrived at Jesse’s at 3:30. I had told them to go ahead and open their presents, so it didn’t affect their plans.

That made for a very short, but nice, day for us. We enjoyed being with Jesse and Greg as they prepared the meal. Most of the time the boys were upstairs playing with their new Christmas presents. Jesse’s turkey turned out to be superb, just the way it has been the past couple of times she has cooked it for us. At the end of the meal, we took our plates to the kitchen. Jesse asked Kate if she would like her to take her plate. Kate accepted. As Jesse walked to the kitchen, I said, “Isn’t it nice to have your daughter take care of you like that?” Kate said, “My daughter?” I said, “Yes, your daughter.” She said, “What’s her name?” Before Jesse returned to the room, she asked her name two more times. Despite that, Kate handled herself beautifully. She participated in our conversation and didn’t say anything unusual. She didn’t walk around the downstairs rooms again, but she did comment on how beautiful the house is.

It wasn’t long after dinner that we came back to the hotel where we relaxed over an hour before Kate wanted to go to bed. She was in bed by 9:00. That should bode well for her getting up earlier today. We plan to meet Jesse and her family either at the hotel or some other place for lunch and then leave around 1:30.

I had wondered for a long time if we could make this trip. I am glad to say that it worked out well. It was very different from those in the past. We had considerably less time with Jesse and her family than before. Some of that arose simply because we stayed in a hotel rather than at their house. Just as important was the fact that we paced ourselves. I don’t think we were all together more than three hours at any one time. That was good for Kate who usually likes to do something different after a couple of hours.

Kate was able to enjoy herself. There was only one time when she seemed a little restless. That was yesterday afternoon just before we ate. For more than an hour, we had been sitting at the bar looking over the kitchen while chatting with Jesse and Greg as they prepared the meal. Kate got up and walked into the family room. I followed her. She asked me when we were leaving. I told her we would go right after dinner. Apart from that, she appeared quite comfortable if not enthusiastic. Of course, she had been very enthusiastic about Jesse’s house and Christmas decorations our first night there.

As for future travel, I believe I will limit it to one-night stays. I’m not sure how many of those we will have. If Kate continues to sleep late, going to visit Ellen in Nashville becomes a little more challenging. If we stayed overnight, that would make the trip less rushed. At the moment, I am not planning anything. I’ll just see how things unfold in the months ahead.

The only family event that I know of that could prompt another trip is to Texas is our granddaughter’s high school graduation. I would like to make that, but I don’t believe it is in the cards for us. I hope I am wrong.

Christmas Eve

We had a nice day yesterday. It matched the activity level we have at home. We got out and had good times with Jesse and her family, but we had breaks that make it easier for Kate.

She got up before 10:30. That got us off to a good start. I don’t like having to wake her. That worked well for our plans to meet Jesse, Greg, and the boys for lunch at a new diner downtown. We met them at 12:30 and had a good time as well as a good lunch. Kate got a very large Turkey Club sandwich. It was about 4” high. I thought she might have trouble getting through half of it, but she ate “the whole thing.” She did it her way starting at the top slice of bread, pulling off one layer at a time and working her way down to the bottom. She wasn’t unusually talkative, but she enjoyed herself. All of us had a good time.

It was after 2:00 before we left. Jesse asked if we wanted to go back to their house or to the hotel. I decided to go back to the hotel for a little break and join them at the house around 4:00. Breaks like that seem to work well for Kate, and Jesse needed to run some errands. I tend to think of these breaks as something solely for Kate, but I also think they are for me. When we are in social situations, I feel a bit of pressure to be attentive to her as well as to enjoy myself with those we are with.

After the break, we returned to Jesse’s house for about an hour. Once again, Kate took great interest in the house. She made the same circle from room to room that she had done the previous evening. For her, it was like the first time she had seen it. She told me that it looked “much better than when we lived here.” That was almost identical to something she had said about our own house a couple of months ago when she took an hour going through it the same way she did at Jesse’s.

As the sun began to set, we went to see the Christmas lights at a seniors nursing facility a twenty-minute drive from their house. They have a large piece of property circled with a light display that Jesse described as “tastefully tacky.” As a fund raiser, they open the yard to the public. I expected Kate enjoy it more than she did. She didn’t say much. It was certainly nothing like her reaction to the décor and Christmas decorations at Jesse’s. From there we drove back into town for dinner at a small Italian restaurant near Jesse’s home. It’s a great neighborhood restaurant. We’ve eaten there quite a few times over the years and enjoyed it. It was perfect for last night.

When we got back to Jesse’s, it was 8:00. I thought it was a good time for us to say good night. We went back to the hotel where I watched a portion of the Broncos/Raiders game while Kate worked on her iPad. She was in bed before 9:30 though she was still awake when I joined her at 10:00. It had been a nice day.

She got up at 3:00 to go to the bathroom. I had trouble getting back to sleep after that. The last time I looked at the clock it was 4:05. I made up that hour by sleeping until 6:45. Continue reading “Christmas Eve”

Happy Moments: Part 1

Earlier this morning I mentioned that Kate was in a very good mood yesterday. That made it a good travel day. I never imagined what was in store after we arrived at Jesse’s house. The best was yet to come.

I certainly didn’t expect it as we were about to leave the hotel. She asked me where we were going. When I told her we were going to Jesse’s, she frowned. I asked what was wrong. She said, “I thought we were going to have dinner with just the two of us.” I told her I would like that too but that she would love seeing Jesse, our daughter, as well as our grandchildren, Randy and Ron. I am sure that she had forgotten that Jesse is our daughter, or she would have been more eager to go.

We ate dinner soon after getting there. Jesse, a vegetarian, had smoked a brisket on their Big Green Egg. This seems a bit ironic for a vegetarian, but her husband, Greg, travels a good bit, and her boys are meat eaters. She is accustomed to preparing non-vegetarian meals. The key, however, is that she takes great interest in entertaining and food. She cooks all kinds of things. Some time ago, she had actually talked about starting a catering service.

After our dinner, Kate started walking around the downstairs portion of the house while Jesse and Greg cleaned up the dishes. It was very much like the time she spent an hour walking around our house one night after we returned home from dinner. She asked Jesse how long they had lived in the house. Then she commented on what a nice house it is. The next thing I knew she had gone back to the dining room. She reacted as though this were the first time she had ever seen it, and we had just spent at least an hour eating and visiting in it. I walked with her as she took in all the Christmas decorations as well as the furniture and design of the house. She was amazed at what she saw and enthusiastic in her praise of Jesse’s house. I was never clear whether she realized that this was a house that Jesse and Greg had built or if she thought they were renting or had bought the house from someone else that had built it. Sometimes she said, “They really thought of everything.” Other times, she said, “The builder really thought of everything.”

Kate noticed most of the decorations, but I pointed out some that she seemed to miss. When she finished the circle from the kitchen to the dining room, to the living room, to the family room and back to the kitchen, she went around again. Each time she entered a room it was like the first time she had ever seen it. Several times she said, “I wish we had seen this house before we bought ours.” Off the kitchen there is door that leads to the laundry room and to the pantry. The door to the pantry was open enough for her to see in. The door to the pantry was closed, and she didn’t open it. She did, however, look at this area several times and called me to look. She commented on what a good job the builder had done. One time I opened the door to the pantry. That gave her something else to praise.

I don’t know how long this went on. It was quite a while, perhaps twenty or thirty minutes. She had a wonderful time. Jesse and I had just as much fun watching Kate enjoy herself. It was a surreal experience.

We left a short time later. As we backed out of Jesse’s driveway, Kate said, “That’s a beautiful house. Who is that lady?” I told her that was Jesse. She said, “She is really nice.” She asked her last name, and I told her. She asked about the man. I told her that was Greg, Jesse’s husband. Then she said, “How do we know them?” I hesitated a moment. What should I say? Then I told her that she is our daughter. She was taken aback. I immediately felt that I should have said something else. I could tell it bothered her momentarily that she hadn’t remembered that Jesse is her daughter, but it didn’t last long. That was the beginning of another story.

The Ride to Memphis

After our early morning conversation yesterday in Nashville, I got up and dressed. Over the past year, I have requested a room that is near the breakfast area. That has worked well. I went to the lobby and brought my breakfast back to the room.

After being awake three different times the night before, I thought I would have to wake Kate to get her ready for the drive to Memphis. She surprised me as she often does. She got up around 9:15, and we made it to breakfast just before they closed at 10:00. She would have gone back to bed after her shower if I hadn’t told her they were getting ready to stop serving breakfast.

I was encouraged that we would be able to leave earlier than I had expected and sent a text to Jesse telling her that we would soon leave for Memphis. Then Kate wanted to rest again. She lay down on the sofa in our room and went to sleep. I woke her at 11:30, and we left the hotel just before noon.

Kate was in a very good mood and more talkative than usual. I have often mentioned that she gives higher evaluations to theatrical and musical performances than she would have done in the past. Recently, I also mentioned that she sees more beauty in things around her. She was very charitable in her assessment of the world around her yesterday. That lasted until she was sound a sleep last night. She liked the Residence Inn in which we stayed in Nashville. She loved the trees along the highway even though many of them were now without their leaves.

She was also very adaptable. We stopped at a Wendy’s for lunch. It was a cold day. When we got inside, she immediately commented on how cold it was. We discovered that the heat had gone our earlier that morning when it had been 27 degrees. I went to the car and got our jackets. She didn’t complain at all as we ate our meal in the cold. When I got up to get ketchup for her fries, I discovered that the two containers were empty. I mentioned it to an employee who (I thought) said he would take care of it. I thought he meant he was going to refill them and went back to our table. It was probably ten minutes before I went back for the ketchup. They were still empty. I asked again. This time the guy said they were out and asked if I wanted some. I told him I did. That is when he told me that they have it in packets. Earlier he had come back to the counter with them, but I had gone back to the table. He thought I didn’t want them. At any rate, Kate never complained about not having ketchup. She was simply happy to get it when it finally arrived.

I used to talk about Kate’s déjà vu experiences. The reason I haven’t mentioned them in a while is because she stopped having them (or talking about them). They were back yesterday. We had a detour that took us completely away from the highway and through a town we had never visited before. As we drove through it, she commented on different things she remembered. There were several other places along the road that she “remembered.”

About fifty miles out from Memphis, we passed homes along both sides of the highway. She commented on how nice they looked. She noted that they were small and unpretentious but kept up very nicely. She repeated this refrain for quite a while. I failed to see the same beauty, but I enjoyed the fact that she could see it.

Throughout the trip, she frequently asked, “Where are we?” and “Why are we here?” I explained that we were on the way to Memphis to celebrate Christmas with Jesse. Each time, she wanted to know who Jesse is. I told her that she is our daughter. Sometimes she was surprised that we have a daughter. Other times she remembered. When I mentioned her family, she asked Jesse’s husband’s name. When I told her, she almost always said, “He’s a nice guy.” That was not something new. She has been saying that for a long time.

We arrived in Memphis shortly after 4:00. We took a few minutes to unload the car. Then we were off to Jesse’s. It was a good travel day.

Conversations in the Night

We didn’t have uninterrupted sleep night before last in Nashville. We got to bed around 10:00. A few minutes before midnight, Kate needed to get to the bathroom. As usual, she was confused about its location. I left the light on to make it easy, but that didn’t help at all. I helped her. When we got back in bed, she was very relaxed but talkative. She wanted to know where we were. I told her we were in Nashville. She was surprised, but that isn’t unusual. She could easily have felt the same way at home. She was not confused about who I am, however. She talked about our relationship and how fortunate we have been. She gave special attention to our children and how proud we are about both of them. I don’t know how long we (mostly Kate) talked. I suspect it was no more than fifteen or twenty minutes. At that time of the morning it seems longer. Off and on during that time, she asked me several times where we were. One time after she asked, I told her. She said, “I probably won’t remember.” I said, “That’s all right. You can ask as many times as you want.” She said, “I already forgot. Where are we?”

At 2:15, she needed to go to the bathroom again. I helped her. When she got back in bed this time, she did not remember my name or that I am her husband. Neither did she remember that we have children. She wanted to know where we were. We went through our usual question and answer conversation.

Around 6:00, she woke up and seemed quite alert. She was very talkative. Once again, she talked about our relationship, the good times we have had, her mother and father, and our children. This was a longer conversation than either of the earlier ones. The last thing I remember her saying was, “What’s your name?” This time it took me a little off guard. She had seemed so alert that I expected that it was one of those times she remembered it.

Traveling to Memphis

Yesterday we left for what I expect to be our last Christmas visit to our daughter Jesse’s house in Memphis. As with our trip to Texas in November, I wasn’t sure that we would be able to make it. About two weeks ago, I felt sure enough to make our lodging  reservations. This will be only the second time we have not stayed with her and her family. At this stage of Kate’s illness, I felt it would be better to have the privacy afforded by staying in a hotel. She can sleep as late as she wants, and we won’t have to worry about any of the mess she makes in the bathroom.

Given how late she has been sleeping, I thought I would let her sleep until 11:30, grab a quick bite to eat, and hit the road between 1:00 and 1:30. As it turned out, she woke up about 10:30. That gave us time to have lunch at the Bluefish Grill, our regular Saturday lunch place.

On several occasions, we have stopped in Nashville to have lunch with friends or visit with our friend Ellen Seacrest. She’s our friend who had a stroke while visiting her daughter in Nashville three years ago this past August. We stopped for a nice visit with her. Earlier in the week, we had seen Louise, the woman who replaced her as choir director at her church in Knoxville. When I mentioned that we were going to see her, she asked if we could take something with us. Yesterday morning she brought a gift bag with a Christmas CD, an assortment of homemade cookies, and a card with greetings and signatures of Ellen’s choir members. That made this visit very special.

Ellen had directed the choir almost forty years and contributed in many other ways to the church. She was well-known and loved. The distance has kept all of her Knoxville friends from visiting her. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only ones who have visited her more than once. Thus, Ellen was quite moved to be remembered in this way. I asked Ellen if she would like to talk with Louise. She was excited when I mentioned it. I called, and Louise answered on the first ring. That began a 10-minute phone call that was certainly the highlight of Ellen’s day. I am so glad I told Louise we were making this visit. After Christmas, I think I will talk with Ellen’s daughter and see how she would feel if we brought one or two of her closest church friends with us on a future visit. That would be quite a thrill for Ellen.

I thought it would make the trip easier if we stayed overnight in Nashville and complete the trip to Memphis today. It would also enable Kate to sleep as late as she would like without getting us to Jesse’s too late in the day. That has worked out quite well though it is increasingly difficult to travel with Kate. There is so much for me to think about and manage. Lots of things come up that would be more easily taken care of at home. I don’t intend to stop all overnight travel. I could easily see staying overnight in Nashville on other trips to see Ellen, but I don’t think we will stay away from home longer than one night in the future. I am also uncertain about how long we might do that.

The Trip Home

Kate didn’t want to get up yesterday morning, but she did. We got to the airport two and a half hours before our flight’s departure. The only troublesome spot was going through security. It was a little like having two toddlers except that the TSA folks believe she can understand what is happening and what she should do. We stood in line to go through the typical scanner that you walk into, face to the right, and raise your hands above your head. I asked Kate to watch the people in front of us and do the same thing. It was a challenge for her to grasp. When there were a couple of people ahead of us, something happened to the scanner. We were shifted to go to the one you simply walk through without stopping. I thought we had it made. I walked first so that Kate could follow what I did. That was when they re-opened the other scanner and asked her to go through that one. She couldn’t follow what the man was trying to tell her. I told him she has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t follow directions well. He let her walk through behind me.

The other issue at security is taking off what is necessary and placing all the required items on the convey belt and collecting them once they have been scanned. Doing this while trying to keep and eye on Kate is a challenge. I was glad when we were through.

From then until the end of the flight’s arrival in Nashville, everything went smoothly. Kate was in a very good mood. She didn’t seem bothered by anything. She was quite relaxed. Before take off, she was working a puzzle. She stopped and asked my name. I told her. She tried repeating it to me. When she was not successful, she wanted me to repeat again. She did this several times consecutively. One time she asked me to say it slowly, and I said, “Richard.” She said, “Richard.” I said, “Lee.” She said “Lee.” I said, “Creighton.” She said, “Creighton.” A few minutes later, she pointed at me and then at herself. I thought her hand signals meant she wanted me to tell her her name and pointed to her to indicate that. She said, “No, yours.” We went through the routine of my name once again. Then Kate said, “What’s my name?” We went through the same routine with her name. She was able to get her first name but missed her maiden name and last name. I wondered if the person seated next to Kate could hear our conversation and, if so, what she was thinking.

Later in the flight, she tapped her hand on my leg. I looked over at her. She blew me a kiss. I returned it. Then I leaned over and said, “What’s my name?” She tried but couldn’t remember. We went through it a couple of times, and she got it. I said, “You got it. I love you.” She laughed and said, “But, can I remember it?” It was interesting that she continues to ask my name and hers so often without expressing any frustration or concern over her inability to remember. I am glad about that. It hurts when she experiences anxiety over not knowing who she is. The rest of the flight continued smoothly. She never stopped working on her puzzles.

She asked me quite a few times where we were going. When I told her we were going to Nashville, she asked why. I told her we were going to get our car and drive to Knoxville. I also told her we would spend the night in our own house. She was surprised and pleased each time and asked where we live. She didn’t seem to remember our having been in Lubbock at all. I continue to be amazed at how well she gets along when she remembers so little and never knows where she is or where she is going.

We were seated on the third row from the rear. I suggested that we let everyone else get off before we did. That worked well. It even allowed Kate extra time to thank the flight attendants as well as the clean-up crew that boarded after the other passengers had disembarked. Kate is now walking slower and slower. It took us a long time to get to baggage claim. Our bag had been removed and sent to customer service.

We caught the shuttle to get our car in the long-term lot. We didn’t have to wait long and were off to Knoxville. We stopped for a sandwich on the way. She surprised me when we walked in the house. I expected her to say, “I’ll follow you.” Instead, she walked through the family room ahead me. She didn’t know where she was going, however. She walked into the living room. She turned around and came out. Then she followed me to our bedroom. She was quite tired and soon went to bed. The change in time zone made it difficult for her to go to sleep, but she was happy. One of the last things she said was to ask my name, hers, and those of her mother and father.

Returning Home Today

It is approaching 8:00 CT as I write this post, and I am feeling a bit melancholy as we make our preparations for our return to Knoxville this afternoon. It has been a good trip. I was optimistic that we would be able to make this one, but Kate’s decline in the past six months made me wonder if we would make it. I am glad we did. It was special to spend Thanksgiving with Kevin and his family. It wouldn’t have been the same had we remained at home; however, it’s been a bitter sweet trip.

As I have noted before, her feelings for Texas have been stronger in the past few years, and she still occasionally mentions the possibility of a move back. In fact, she said something to me about that possibility since we have been here. As she has done a few times in the past, she asked what I thought we would do about moving. I told her I wasn’t sure. I suggested that we remain in Knoxville right now and see how things unfold. She accepted that without comment. At this stage she tends to follow my lead.

Despite her Texas pride, she has not expressed any special enthusiasm for being here, having Texas BBQ, or eating Tex-Mex. She also loves her children and grandchildren. She does not always remember that she has them, but when she does, she expresses her feelings about them. It was different this time. I believe most of that is because she is unable to remember who they are. At dinner last night she was unclear of who we were sitting with. I gave her the name of each person, but she couldn’t remember them. As she did when Kevin visited Knoxville in September, she said things that were clear signs of her Alzheimer’s. Last night for example, she asked, “Where are we?” as we were eating dinner. If she can’t remember where she is or who she is with, one can easily understand that it is hard to express enthusiasm for being here with her family.

Before we left the restaurant last night, Kate said she would like to use the restroom. I walked her to the door and waited for her. As she walked in, a woman was just leaving. Kate said something to her. The woman responded and then walked by me. I told her that Kate has Alzheimer’s and asked here if there were anything that Kate might find confusing. I mentioned that she has had occasional trouble getting out of the restroom. She said she didn’t notice anything that might present a problem. A few minutes later, Rachel, Kevin’s wife, asked if I would like her to go inside to help Kate if she needed anything. I told her I thought she would be all right and that I would just wait for her. It wasn’t long before I heard a knock on the door. I opened it. Kate was standing there. She was relieved to see me. I don’t know why, but she had been unable to open the door. My guess is that she tried to push it open rather than pulling it open. It is just one other reminder of the challenges faced by people with dementia everywhere they go. There are a million little things like this that we take for granted.

As we leave today, I won’t be thinking just about this as Kate’s last trip to Texas. I will also think of it as a point marking a change in my own life. We met in Fort Worth. We were married there. We lived there for two years after our wedding, and we have made regular trips to visit family in Texas ever since. We return now to Knoxville, our home for the past 47 years, but I carry with us memories of very special moments Kate and I have shared in Texas. I only wish she were able to remember them as well.

The Day After Thanksgiving

We had a good day yesterday. I can’t ever be sure exactly why some days are better than others. I believe that yesterday’s schedule was at least partially responsible. It was a day that was broken into several different segments. That is more typical of our daily routine when we are at home. It seems to be hard for Kate to do the same thing for an extended period of time. That is why we are rarely at home, Panera, or Barnes & Noble longer than two hours.

Kate was up earlier yesterday. They were still serving breakfast when we got to the dining room. They close at 10:00. We had our iPads with us and spent about an hour there before she felt tired. That is typical when she gets up earlier than usual. We came back to the room where she lay down on the sofa and napped another hour. Around the noon hour, Kevin and his family picked us up for lunch at a restaurant downtown. We followed that with a walk around the area and visited an historical site.

I was especially pleased that Kate was able to get in a little walk. Her life is very sedentary. She refuses to walk around the neighborhood or at a gym. She only walks to get from one place to another, and those are short trips. As a consequence, it is becoming more difficult for her to walk or even to get up from a seated position. She can do it herself, but she often wants to take my hand. Frequently, I put my hand under her arm and help lift her out of the car. Most of the time, she is quite accepting of that help. Other times, she refuses, saying she can do it herself.

One of the other challenges of walking involves her eyesight. I suspect it is her cataracts that present a problem. She is very sensitive to light and dark portions of the pavement as well as painted lines on the street or small pebbles in pavement of sidewalks. When we leave Panera at home, we sometimes exit by a side door that leads to wheel chair access to and from the parking lot. Although I tell her she does not need to step up or down, she is very cautious. When walking with a group as we were yesterday, it can be a challenge for others to walk as slowly as she does. Just walking across a street can take a while. As family, they were all understanding.

Kevin dropped us off at the hotel around 4:00. We had had a nice leisurely outing. Kate enjoyed herself although I would say that she was not as enthusiastic as she was six months ago when we were here. On the whole, her emotions are expressed with much less enthusiasm than in the past.

Kate and I relaxed in our hotel room for an hour and a half before we left to meet Kevin and his family for dinner at one of our favorite hamburger places. We had a good time and enjoyed our burgers. Knowing that Kate loves French fries, I got her a side order. I quickly noticed that she went for the fries before the burger. They were gone before she got down to the burger patty. I think I have mentioned before that she usually eats sandwiches including burgers in pieces. I haven’t identified a consistent pattern, but she normally takes off the top slice of bread or bun and puts it aside. Then with her hand, she picks off the individual ingredients (in this case, pickles and tomato) and eats them. I didn’t notice as she was eating but I believe the top of the bun was gone when I noticed she had eaten all the fries and had gotten down to the shredded lettuce and the patty. By then, the rest of us had finished eating. It took another ten or fifteen minutes for her to be ready.

As we walked back to our car, Kate was very cautious as we walked across the parking lot. It was lighted, but there were lots of shadows. She was concerned about possible uneven surfaces. I have heard that people with dementia often perceive patches of black to be holes and that a way to prevent walking away from home is to put a black mat in front of the doors leading to the outside. I’m not sure of the validity of this, but I wondered about that as we walked to the car. The position of the lights focused light on the front end of the cars where we had parked. This cast long shadows at the rear end of each car. I was holding Kate’s hand. As I turned to walk more directly to our car, we were about to walk into the shadow of the car next to us. Kate stopped. She looked at the shadow as if if it were a chasm. I told her it was all right, just a shadow of the car. She didn’t accept that. She pulled my hand and walked around the shadow rather than through it. Then I wondered how she would react when she noticed the shadow of our car. She ignored it completely. We walked right through it to the passenger side of the car.

She was in one of her appreciative moods as we drove back to the hotel. She thanked me for everything I do for her. This is not something that occurs everyday, but she expresses her appreciation often enough that I know she recognizes much that I do for her and is genuinely appreciative. That helps to keep me going. I know that some caregivers don’t hear such expressions as often.

Christmas music was playing in the lobby when we got back to the hotel. Kate said, “I love that.” That led me to turn on some Christmas music I have on my phone when we got to our room. We listened for an hour and a half while she worked on her iPad and I watched the Oklahoma/West Virginia football game with the sound turned down.

After a while, Kate lay down on the sofa and rested while listening to the music. I suggested that it was time for bed. She agreed but made no effort to get up. I finally got her up. In the process of getting her dressed for bed, she got irritated with me for pushing her. After we were in bed, she apologized and said, “You have to put up with so much from me.” She still seems quite perceptive in ways like this. I would love to know exactly what she notices and what she doesn’t.