I’ve been think a lot lately about early-onset Alzheimer’s. I think it has to do with the recent death of Pat Summitt, former head coach of the Lady Vols at the University of Tennessee. She was only 64.
There is another reason I am saddened by her death: My father loved the Lady Vols. He watched every game he could on television.
After retiring my parents moved to a kind of “Stepford Wives” retirement community where every lawn was groomed, the houses perfect, and the residents (mostly white) golfed and drank martinis. Maybe it was a bit like Mad Men too, with a dark underside. Anyway this community lay along the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, so close to the basketball action for that state. On weekends you’d see cars with little flags whipping on the back of SUVs Go Lady Vols. The women were taken just as bit as seriously as the men.
And Pat Summitt was no joke, but the real deal. No one wanted to get between her and victory. She coached the team to eight NCAA championships. So thinking about Pat reminds me of my dad—and how surprised and pleased he might be that she has joined him in some eternal basketball court. Surprised that she was there already, but pleased to watch replays over and over again with her.
Since this blog is about memories, I also cannot help dwelling on the incredible tragedy of early-onset Alzheimer’s. It seems such an ironic disease to be visited upon someone with such potential. Truly a person of 59 or 60 should not be looking forward to a painful diminishing death—but to world travel, long dinners at fancy restaurants. At this moment in life after kids are grown and through college, and (fingers crossed) the house is paid for there is suddenly some wiggle room, time for oneself, possibly to reap the fruits of one’s labors.
Now life takes a sudden turn. Which is another reason I feel lucky to be able to cycle and in about 7 weeks begin a bike trip of a lifetime—JOGLE, from John O Groats to Land’s End.