JOY

“Go out with joy” says the prophet Isaiah and the “trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (55:12) I used to long for big, exuberant joy this time of year–a universal celebration of God’s outreach.

Joy today has shrunk in size for me, but not in intensity. Joy is now as tiny as the word itself. Not the trees clapping, but one tree alone changing seasons before my house before my eyes, red and gold from the top down, lingering leaves until the first harsh winter wind catches those leaves and sends them swirling: a tiny morning joy out my window. Joy is manifest in the small magnificent daily detail around me that accompanies my going out and my coming in, morning and evening.

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MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS

Daughters & their aging mothers have been on my mind. As I wrote about my own mother in SWIMMING SOLO, I remembered teaching 3 of my favorite French authors who wrote about their mothers at the end of life: Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, & Annie Ernaux. And Alzheimer’s likely figured in at least one decline, Annnie Ernaux’s mother. On a fall day, I think of these portraits of French mothers and daughters, and of my own mother who, like one of autumn’s final flowers, slowly faded from purple to mauve.

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About Pat Robertson

Colleen Campbell says it so well: Alzheimer’s does not mean a person is “gone.” Read her article at:
http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/colleen-carroll-campbell/article_2e27636a-4f06-5188-a1d0-6d77b118109c.html
And read my memoir SWIMMING SOLO for a full family panorama of my husband’s parents and my parents, all of whom had Alzheimer’s. And their vivid, funny personalities often shone through reminding us of how important it is to have mindful, humane, and individualized caregiving.

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WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY: 9/21/11

It’s WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY. Just back from an amazing, productive trip to Seattle where I joined End-Alzheimer’s efforts and read from SWIMMING SOLO. Thanks to so many welcoming Seattle-ites: Ann Hedreen; Esther Helfgott; Janelle Taylor; Keri Pollock and Bob Leroy of the Alzheimer’s Association of Western and Central Washington State; Karen Allman at Elliott Bay Book Co.; the Skyline at First Hill; George Treusch; my children and grandchildren; and many more. We generated lots of ideas to aid and support caregivers and those with AD. Much work for us ahead.

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SWIMMING SOLO at the Buccaneer Bash

SWIMMING SOLO at the Lake Shore Parrotheads Buccaneer Bash in Ludington, MI:
After a warm homecoming for SWIMMING SOLO sponsored by the Pentwater Township Library, luck took me to the Buccaneer Bash in Ludington, MI. I had a SWIMMING SOLO booth. I loved pirate costumes; brats and burgers; kids with eye patches and bandannas; great singer followed by full band playing “Margaritaville” and more. And all this was to benefit the Western Michigan Alzheimer’s Association.

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Where SWIMMING SOLO Began

Off to Pentwater, Michigan where SWIMMING SOLO began, where we first recognized signs of my father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s disease. Off to family time with 2 children and 5 grandkids, with cherries, corn on the cob, sand between our toes, the chill of blue Lake Michigan. Everything is infused with warm family memories going back to my grandmother who first visited Pentwater in 1916. And I can’t wait. . . .

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STORIES I HEAR

Oh, the stories I hear. I’ve had lots of SWIMMING SOLO gigs this month where I’m the listener. Often I’m just 5-10 minutes into my reading and talk when someone wiggles in the chair, shoots up a hand to speak:
-A nurse tells about driving Alzheimer’s patients around to quiet them.
-A wife explains that her dog barked to alert her at the moment of her husband’s death.
-A young OR nurse adds hospice care for the elderly as a specialty.
-A grocery checker sends a check to the Alzheimer’s Association when she finishes SWIMMING SOLO.

I feel as if I have enough moving stories for another book. . . .

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SWIMMING SOLO in Italy

Just back from warm, wonderful family visits in Rome. Cousin Piero had already read SWIMMING SOLO and was ready to tell me about his first encounter with his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s. I gave Cousin Francesca a copy over dinner in a trattoria in Trastevere with family and friends all around. So the stories live in Italy now.

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LARRY KING ON ALZHEIMER’S EPIDEMIC, MAY 1

Larry King returns to CNN, Sunday, May 1 at 8 pm (ET). Celebrities, doctors, and others touched by the disease through family or profession will look at who gets Alzheimer’s and the push to find reliable diagnosis and treatment. Good to get the word out about Alzheimer’s and its prevalence.

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EARLY EVIDENCE OF ALZHEIMER’S DEMENTIA

News in today’s New York Times (4/19/11) about new and mounting evidence of early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. New biomarker guidelines and stages of the disease will be released today by the National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Program. For lay people and writers like me, all news about research progress is welcome welcome welcome.

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