Gerda is having a live talk with “Being Patient Alzheimer’s” TODAY April 23 at 7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. Mountain Time/4 p.m. PST on their Facebook page.
Log in via Facebook to access the call: Click here to find the interview on Facebook Live at the times listed below. If you have a life and cannot listen today at 7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. Mountain Time/4 p.m. PST, you can listen to it later as a podcast. I will send that link when it’s available.
What is Being Patient? founder Deborah Kan resigned from her job as Executive Producer at the Wall Street Journal to redesign reporting on health after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Being Patient examines the latest research on the prevention, treatment and care of the disease from the patient’s point of view. “We give patients and carers the tools to map the landscape of the disease and go straight to the expert community to get the answers they want to know. We aim to elevate the patient’s voice in important conversations and help researchers understand their patient communities.”
You can see videos of interviews with other people at Debrah Kahn interviews
I am going to play who/what/where/when/how to explain how this invitation to speak came about:
Who: You already know it’s me presenting. Accompanied, as usual, by Doña Quixote. And of course Peter, without whom there would me much more Doña Quixote and far less me.
What: In the two years since my book’s publication, I have been invited to conferences and other venues where I have told my story with readings from my book in addition to a PowerPoint presentation. This way I can better visually brag about my grandkids. Peter, of course, helped me prepare the PowerPoint for this—and previous—presentations and mercifully advances it and makes the videos play while I talk from paper.
Where: 10 E 6150 S, Murray, UT 84107 (Even though the address is “10E,” the Center is actually located one block WEST of State Street)
When: April 12 at 10:30 am
How: Peter and I now starbucks at the newish one near our apartment, on Simpson (2254 South) and 1300 East. By now, over a year since we moved here, we know many of the regulars, among them kind, friendly, smart, loving, efficient, super-fit, organized—oh, I almost forgot the outside—GORGEOUS Briana Bayne. We sat at the table next to hers one day, and after the “hello” it was instant recognition that she’s one of our persons. Over several coffee days we got to know and love her. Like everyone in our village, she of course listened out the story of Doña Quixote’s visitations, i.e., my dementia. And told her mom about it.
Briana Bayne drinks tea as well as coffee…
It so happens that Briana’s mom, Maureen Gallagher, is a program coordinator at the Murray Heritage Senior Center, the go-to place for seniors of Murray City and anyone else over 55 in Salt Lake City. (You don’t have to be 55+ to come to my presentation, though! ) Maureen invited me to talk, and Voila! here I come.
Peter and I met Maureen last week when she invited us to visit the center and see the layout of the room in which I will be doing my talk. When talking with Maureen, one can clearly see where Briana’s fire from within comes from! Her enthusiasm for her work is evident in her telling of the history of the center and taking us on a tour of a really impressive place for seniors to spend recreation and leisure time. The building is magnificent—spacious, light-filled, and lived-in by people playing cards, getting help with their taxes, exercising, or participating in other instructional or cultural programs. They even have a lecture series and have presented (and will again do so) a six-week history course. The Center also provides social services and nutritious meals.
The most gratifying information Maureen gave us is that they have social dancing every Thursday! The event is attended by up to eighty people. Peter and I plan to check it out soon!
Left: Thursday dancing with Tony Summerhays and his band. Right: Frank Rehling and his wife Shirley have been regulars at the Thursday dances for many years, and still grace the floor with their harmonious steps.
The biggest endorsement I can give the Center and the people who work and volunteer there is that there were regulars just sitting in chairs and visiting with each other or the staff— people clearly love this home-from-home.
Hope to see some familiar faces at my presentation on Friday!
Here is a link to their Newsletter.
Some weeks ago I received an invitation from Bob Goldberg, Director of the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah and History professor, to do a reading and Q & A on campus in relation to Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia. My history with the Tanner Center goes back over 20 years. Toward the end of my coursework for my English PhD at the University of Utah, during the1995-96 academic year, I was lucky enough to receive a graduate research fellowship at the Tanner Humanities Center on campus at the U to continue my research and writing for my (still incomplete) novel about Michelangelo’s sexuality, Last Pieta—the gift of a whole year of grad school without me having to teach.
During my and Peter’s trip to Milan last year, I saw the subject of my novel, the Rondanini Pieta, for the first time. Michelangelo still worked on this pieta only days before his death. Last Pieta is the book I thought I would work on in my retirement. Because of my short-term memory loss, I have so far found it impossible to keep its 300 pages in my head as a whole in order to complete it.
Some of the reasearch I did while at the Tanner was in relation to Michelangelo’s death, the event where my book ends. Thinking of my own eventual death, I often thought that being productive until almost the end of one’s days must be the best way to exit life. The premature death of my mind was not something I had thought much about. My mother had not yet suffered the serious cognitive breakdown upon which our family now looks back as the start of her dementia. Her death, preceded by a handful of stressfull years during which she was not able to pursue her former interests, was still a decade in the future.
Carlson Hall during my time as a fellow at the Tanner Humanities Center.
During the time of my fellowship, the Tanner Center was still housed in Carlson Hall. The building was completed in the late summer of 1938. It was the first residence hall on the University of Utah campus, and one of the first in the western United States to be built for women. Carlson Hall served generations of women students, but the wave of new students on campus after World War II meant that other housing for students, both men and women, had to be found. After other residence halls were built on campus, Carlson Hall was converted to offices and classrooms in 1971. By the time I was assigned an office there, the building was on its last legs, already slated to be demolished as soon as new premises could be found for the Tanner Center, the History Department, and other groups that used its office space. In hindsight, it would be easy to commit the pathetic fallacy, a literary term for the attribution of human emotion and conduct to nature and material objects, by claiming that the fate of Last Pieta was connected to that of the crumbling building in which a huge part of it was conceived! Unlike Carlson Hall and my brain, though, the Tanner Center has moved on to new premises and new strengths.
Left, Carlson Hall when it was new in 1938. From 1988 onward it would house the Tanner Center for a decade. Right, in 2008, the Tanner Center moved to its new premises in the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building.
Despite the still unfinished state of my magnum opus, I look back at my year in the Tanner Center as having had enormous importance in my life—Last Pieta was my first book-length work and it really taught me to write. Even though, by the time I retired, my brain could no longer handle the book’s 300-something pages and convoluted plot, enough of my story-telling skills remained that I was able to write the disconnected series of essays on my dementia that, with much help from Shen Christenson and Kirstin Scott as well as my agent Kate Garrick and Hachette senior editor Paul Whitlatch, has now become my memoir Memory’s last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia.
In addition to the blissful daytime hours of research and writing, I received the bonus of an exceptional office mate: my fellow fellow Susan Anderson. The year when Susan and I shared an office fell in a difficult time of my life when Peter was commuting to Nevada for almost three years for his job of transforming that state’s worker’s compensation system from paper to electronics. He was gone for the work week and home only on weekends. Marissa had just left home for her own apartment and Newton was in high school and the only family member living at home with me during the week. It was so lovely to have a friend in Susan, single at the time, with whom I could go to grad student events and who could come to our house to share a meal with Newton and me. Sometimes she and I hung out together to study and, particularly in winter, she would stay for a “sleepover” to avoid the snowy roads. She and her family still today count as precious members of our made-in America family.
My return to the Tanner Center to read from and answer questions about Memory’s Last Breath is to me a matter of nostalgia, both the happy and melancholic kinds. Should you be free on the afternoon of Thursday Sept 7 at 3 pm, it would be lovely to see you there.
Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building, Room 143
215 S. Central Campus Dr. (click here for map)
Gerda reads from Memory’s Last Breath this coming Thursday, June 29th at 6:30 pm, ART ACCESS, 230 SOUTH 500 WEST, #110, Salt Lake City
Attendance is FREE and open to the public. ASL interpreter provided. IT WOULD BE LOVELY TO SEE YOU THERE!
DATE: Thursday, June 29th, TIME: 6:30pm
LOCATION: ART ACCESS, 230 SOUTH 500 WEST, #110, Salt Lake City
Questions or accommodation re- quests? Please call 801.328.9868 or contact email@example.com
As part of our Creative Aging Project, Art Access is proud to present a public reading by acclaimed author, Gerda Saunders from her newly published personal memoir Memory’s Last Breath.
Saunders’ book is uncharted territory in the writing on dementia. One in nine Americans will experience dementia in their lifetime. Based on the “field notes” she keeps in her journal, Memory’s Last Breath is Saunders’ astonishing window into a life distorted by dementia. She writes about shopping trips cut short by unintentional shoplifting, car journeys derailed when she loses her bearings, and the embarrassment of forgetting what she has just said to a room of colleagues. Coping with the complications of losing short-term memory, Saunders nonetheless embarks on a personal investigation of the brain and its mysteries, examining science and literature, and immersing herself in vivid memories of her childhood in South Africa.