The primary fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association is the Longest Day celebration. Because caring for a loved one is a long, exhausting, 24/7 experience, each year this event is held on the summer solstice, June 20th. While I often hold something, whether in my yard or elsewhere around town, this year I will be staging my day from a distance as we will be traveling. I encourage you to offer your own Longest Day. A request may be made for donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, but I really thinking it is the opportunity to spend time with friends and family that is of utmost importance.

Lynn and I will be with kids and grandkids, hiking, swimming, laughing, and exploring. I also plan a wine and hors d’oeuvres sharing later in the month. My sister Marilyn and her sorority are planning a gathering for games and sharing food with members and their sponsors donating to this worthy cause. Across the country people will be gathering to enjoy camaraderie with others while supporting something of vast importance. Your donation will go a long way in advancing research on Alzheimer’s, finding preventative, reversal, and curative measures. There is hope that in the future the dread of this disease can be shut away forever.

As I pondered this month’s topic I always had in the back of mind the focus on the longest day, but another thought continually snuck into my brain. For me, with the loss of my mom and my sister to Alzheimer’s, the solstice also signifies the shortest day, the shortest because through death I realized how life flies by and loved ones vanish in a wink. My father died when I was 19 due to a hereditary blood clotting disorder. With each of them and their deaths, our time together ended far too quickly. I dearly cherish the time we did have, however I will always wish for more – days, weeks, months… Not time in the throes of cognitive decline, but rather moments wrapped in the joy of being a family. 

My best memories come from Priest Lake and our cabin there. Although there were always projects to complete, there was plenty of time for adventures, rousing card games, and delicious eating. Huckleberry pancakes, hotdog roasts, Dad’s famous spaghetti, and Mom’s yummy cookies all found their way to the table. As a child we had to carry buckets of water from the well down the hill in the boat house and our evenings were lighted by kerosene lanterns. With running water and electricity, life changed, but it is still equally as good. With my aunt’s cabin next door, summers were relaxing and rejuvenating: beautiful, enriching memories that help fill the void of loss.

To a brighter subject, and one that can invigorate your life, Alicia Heiser has developed a work-out plan to prepare you for our upcoming Sprint Triathlon Saturday September 18th  and sponsored by Age- and Dementia-Friendly Winnemucca and Humboldt Volunteer Hospice. I have completed three of these, and after studying Alicia’s plan, I know that this training will be so helpful. Previously I had worked on swimming, biking, and running, but not in such a consistent routine with a daily outline and careful build-up. Probably the greatest challenge was that I had never practiced all three events in a row and in order. For me and my logical thinking, I rode my bike to the pool, swam, then ran followed by a bike trip home. On Sprint Tri day the swim to bike transition rolled out smoothly, but my biking to running legs hit the rode wobbly for several strides. Eventually all body parts responded in a coherent synchrony and the miles zipped by.

Realize, of course, that you have many weeks ahead to practice and that if completing all three just seems like too much, a team can be formed. This can actually translate to three times the fun as you unite to complete your Sprint Tri. And if a team member cancels, no problem. Our rules are flexible. Register on the website. It’s interesting that just signing up offers its own special sense of dedication and enthusiasm to aid you as you get the training lined out. I promise that your sense of accomplishment upon completion will carry you forward as you plan to beat your time in 2022.