Diana Ingram: It happened again

January 31, 2011 

“Even then, more than a year earlier, there were neurons in her head, not far from her ears, that were being strangled to death, too quietly for her to hear them.

“Some would argue that things were going so insidiously wrong the neurons themselves initiated events that would lead to their own destruction. Whether it was molecular or cellular suicide, they were unable to warn her of what was happening before they died.”

(Taken from “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova)

Just the word Alzheimer’s makes most people get a shiver down their spine. What can be worse than slowly losing yourself or watching someone you love disappear bit by bit before your eyes?

Of all diseases, it is the most costly on the caregiver, and as we baby boomers age, it has the potential of crippling the nation.

People with Alzheimer’s and related diseases are more likely to have to leave their employment than, say, cancer, and are more likely to need more prolonged supervised care. When you consider that every person who has a parent that had Alzheimer’s has a 50 percent chance of also developing the disease, coupled with the fact that we are on average living longer, the statistics can be overwhelming.

Yet, most caregivers and loved ones suffer alone, at least support is available to help make reality more bearable. Yes, I have mentioned that before, and here I go again. (I also lose my keys, a lot). There is an Alzheimer Support Group in Los Banos that meets monthly on the third Wednesday at noon at the Waffle House on Pacheco Boulevard. We are a network of people who have been or are currently there.

You are welcome, encouraged, to come by and join us. It helps to hear someone say, oh, yes, mine does that, too, or have you tried this?

On an added point, if you have noticed subtle changes in a loved one or yourself, mention it to your doctor, especially if there is a genetic factor in your family. Early detection can mean early treatment, which may slow the process, and that is a good thing.

If you have questions, call Eileen Sorenson at 826-5374 or me at 826-0874.

Parreria party perfect

When you are celebrating something as special as Barbara Parreira’s 80th birthday you know the party has to be great, and great it was.

Held at Espana’s banquet room, the affair ran from noon to 5 p.m. with cocktails and the widest arrangement of hors d’oeuvres I have ever seen. Instead of the traditional birthday cake, granddaughter Christina, a culinary genius, made two cupcake trees, beyond decadent. Beautiful hydrangea potted pants decorated the many round tables. The handsome Parreira family showed up in force along with numerous close friends to toast the special lady of the day.

My table was especially lively with Father Bob, Paul and Debby Parreria, Tom and Patti Spadafore and Mike and Carol Mogan.

Soroptimist back at it

Mark your calendars and wet your palate. Yes, the much-awaited event of the Soroptimist is on the way. The Mad Hatter Victorian Tea is set for March 26 and the Wine and Cheese Preview is scheduled on March 25. Both events are to be held at the wonderful Arts Center. Tickets will be available soon and are bound to be snapped up. Plus, they are having their amazing raffle, so get ready, don’t be late for that very important date. It’s going to be TEA-riffic!

Pick a pie deal.

Once more the members of the Kiwanis Club are having their annual Valentine’s Day Marie Calendar pie sale (Yummy, yummy to my tummy!). All orders must be prepaid and received by Feb. 8, and will be available Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Los Banos Community Center.

For just $12, your choices include: apple, apple lite, berry, blueberry, cherry, lemon meringue, coconut cream, chocolate cream, banana cream, razzleberry, razzleberry lite, peach, pecan and pumpkin. If you wish to order any of these pies, call my friend Jim Valentine at 826-5181. Payment can be dropped off at his office at 507 J St. or mailed to him at P.O. Box 467, Los Banos.

Birthday balloons

Belated happy birthday wishes to my beautiful adopted sister, Donna Morris. For a special surprise birthday gift, her devoted husband, Dennis, presented her with a darling baby alpaca named Romance to add to the wonderful alpacas they have at their graceful home visible from Highway 152.

You can’t help but notice these enchanting creatures as you drive by; sure wish I had their eyelashes (to die for). I have purchased a few items made from the soft alpaca fur (they are shorn once a year like a sheep), and nothing feels as cuddly.

A big hug and lots of kisses to a most lovable and huggable man, the charming Carlos Contreras! “Grandpa Carlos” turns 86 on Feb. 2 and his entire family sends love to him, and that is a lot of love! Lara, Jessica, Bryan and I are throwing our love in, too, as we adore him.

Cares and concerns

Wishes for a complete and speedy recovery go out to sweet Dolores Jorge and my dear Gloria Spina.

Songs of San Fran

Had a remarkably wonderful time on a quick getaway with five friends in San Francisco last week. Twenty-four hours can give you a little attitude adjustment. We ate at the Cliff House, visited the Martin Luther King Memorial, saw Picassos, wondered at the beauty of the city by the Bay, visited a lighthouse, and even sang around a piano bar. The world was still waiting for me when I returned, but R&R is still a great tool. God bless you, Mark and Eddie.

A brown paper bag

They say that good things come in small packages. Maybe because engagement rings are often presented that way.

While on the other hand a small brown paper bag often made me think of a cheap bottle of wine, sorry about that.

The 25th was the three-month “anniversary” — boy, that must not be the right term — of my Ron’s death. I have felt it loom before me. The other day I was sorting through a drawer at the office and I came upon a small brown paper bag (no, it did not have wine in it). When I opened the bag a flood of happy memories bounced out saying, “Smile.” Or, “Cry.” Or Both.

Inside were a bunch of very small rocks. Yes, rocks. On our honeymoon as we traveled cross country, we passed quickly through Little Rock, Ark. I asked Ron to pull over to the side of the road, and grabbed a small paper bag that had postcards in it. I took out the cards and filled the bag with Little Rocks. Ron laughed at me, and said, “What on earth do you want with those?” I replied, rather meekly, “Well someday, these little rocks from Little Rock will mean a lot to me.” And I was right. They do.

Yes, good things do come in small packages, and sometimes even in brown paper bags. May you always find delight in even the smallest things, and until next time, may all your news be good news.

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