Dreading Alzheimers’ Assault on a Bountiful Life
The birthday cards for 50 year olds joke about “over the hill.” My mother and hers spent this side of the hill suffering from Alzheimers’ disease. I don’t consider being robbed of the opportunity to be an actor in one’s own life any form of bountiful. But “over the hill” reminds me of a conversation I had many times with my husband.
I was born in Detroit and lived in New York City in my early twenties. When I moved to San Francisco in 1970, it seemed so “small town,” but at least it wasn’t –da da da da—the suburbs! I told my husband Jim Hoffert, “I’m a big city kind of woman. Don’t ever move me to the suburbs!” But now I live “over the hill,” both literally and figuratively. I am now one of the “bridge and tunnel” crowd. I was surprised to find that I can exercise my brain in a way that may help me find the bounty to fend off Alzheimer’s, if that is at all possible, right here in The East Bay–the dreaded suburbs– without crossing the bay to what the basketball jerseys used to tout as “The City.”
Most of these days, besides looking for employment, I make my way through stacks of books borrowed from The Contra Costa Library system. We have 26 libraries, plus other book outlets, in the county system. I belong to a book club at one and attend events sponsored by several. Bountiful!
Last Saturday I attended a breakfast workshop in Pleasant Hill as a member of The California Writers’ Club. Camille Minichino, Ph.D. in physics from Fordham University, on the faculty of Golden Gate University, San Francisco and on the staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, also writes mystery books. Her topic: “Beginnings and Endings for Fiction and Non-fiction.” Camille gave us her formula for writing fiction and took us through several exercises that used both sides of my brain. Maybe I will publish yet. Bountiful!
Tuesday, I presented a business plan at Experience Unlimited in Walnut Creek. Yes, my undergrad and graduate studies were in British and American lit. Yes, I only have a 30-unit undergrad certificate in management studies. Yet, I was called to stretch my brain and I did by formulating a business case for the marketing committee. Bountiful!
Wednesday afternoon, I attended a class in Power Point sponsored by Experience Unlimited. I’d built many presentations as a community liaison for United Airlines and as a graduate student in English but felt compelled to tweak my skills. The teacher has a long impressive resume, but he taught this refresher class for free. Bountiful!
Wednesday night I went to the Lafayette Library with another Michigan transplant. A docent from Berkeley Rep discussed “Ghost Light,” a play conceived and developed by Jonathan Moscone and Tony Taccone about Jon’s life in the aftermath of his father’s assassination. Jon’s father was mayor of San Francisco when the Giants tried to move to Toronto and during the People’s Temple mass suicide in Ghana. He was the first mayor to appoint large numbers of women, gays and lesbians and racial minorities to city commissions and advisory boards. Jonathan Moscone was in his early teens when Dan White assassinated his father. Now we in the Bay Area can follow Jon’s journey in grief. Now we in the East Bay could attend a free docent presentation of the work. Bountiful!
Thursday night I was back at Lafayette Library. The library and The World Affairs Council hosted Neil Joek, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The UCB department of international studies tells us that “Dr. Joeck worked on India and Pakistan as a political analyst and group leader in Z Division at LLNL from 1987-2001. He took leave from LLNL to serve as the National Intelligence Officer for South Asia in the Office of the Director for National Intelligence from 2009 to 2011, as Director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council from 2004 to 2005 and as a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State from 2001 to 2003.” Yet, there I was—in the suburbs!—listening to this learned gentleman speaking on “Why Pakistan Matters.” Bountiful!
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings, I danced to loud music under the direction of Raquel Call, a Brasilian Zumba instructor who makes us smile in Concord. Bountiful!
Friday afternoon, I attended a free training class on facilitation in Concord. Bountiful!
Friday night, I used a $4.75 offer from goldstar.com to attend Tom Stoppard’s play “Arcadia” at Live Oak Theater in Berkeley. Bountiful!
The docent talk Wednesday night was free, but Saturday night we paid the big bucks to attend Berkeley Rep’s presentation of the Jonathan Moscone and Tony Taccone play “Ghost Light.” I attended at least 25 plays in the last twelve months. This work about Jon Moscone’s life in the aftermath of his father Mayor George Moscone’s assassination is my top pick for writing, acting and set. I want a copy so that I can read and remember the words. Love this line, “Everyone has a suck drawer.” The play is powerful. I am still reeling. Bountiful!
Sunday afternoon, I was back at Lafayette library where a panel of authors from my California Writers’ Club shared their experiences in publishing. Thank you to Catherine Accardi, Nannette Rundle Carroll and Patricia Evans. Bountiful!
Next week, on top of continuing my search for employment, I will attend a morning lecture at Experience Unlimited. I’ll be at the library one night to hear a lecture and mini concert on the Steinway piano. Another evening I will use a low-cost goldstar.com ticket to attend “Laura,” a play fashioned from the noir book and film of the 1940’s. No matter where I am, my purse will contain a book from our free and extensive lending library system for those minutes I wait for a speaker or performance or service. Bountiful!
According to NPR:
The Obama administration is developing the first National Alzheimer’s Plan to address the medical and social problems of dementia …an estimated 5.4 million Americans already have Alzheimer’s or similar dementias … The plan still is being written, with the advisory panel’s input. But a draft of its overall goals sets 2025 as a target date to have effective treatments and ways to delay if not completely prevent the illness… Some advisory members said that’s not aggressive enough, and 2020 would be a better target date.
If this plan works, it will wonderful. In the meantime, I am glad I gave in and moved to the East Bay–to the suburbs–where I continue to find a life that may help me fight off the disease through which my mother and hers suffered. Bountiful!
As I always write—“We didn’t know that Landon Jones would coin the term ‘Baby Boomer’ and explore our lives in a book, Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, but we always knew our generation would redefine ‘Old.’ The time when Paul McCartney suggested we would ‘grow older, losing our hair, many years from now’ arrived. We want to make the most of our days; we want to live a bountiful life.”