Fellow Facilitator Matt Herman and I were in Los Angeles’s Miracle Mile on June 23, 2010 to record a day of Door-to-Door interviews hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association – California Southland Chapter, and Leeza’s Place at Olympia Medical Center, a site that supports Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Life partners Earl Adams and Jennifer Duke recorded on this day. Jennifer is 38 and a few years ago was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis; Earl is 50 and last year was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The two talked about the importance of sports in his life and how they help him focus on the present.
Jennifer teased him for duping his bowling challengers into underestimating his talent. He initially plays to their level, and mid-game emerges with an onslaught of strikes and flying pins. Once, he walked with the ball off the lane and bowled many yards behind the line. The ball swung toward the gutter and impeccably curved toward the inside for a strike. People were incredulous that he has Alzheimer’s disease. When Earl struggled to describe this dynamic, Jennifer said, “You sandbag your opponents!”
Jennifer’s disease at times requires her to rely on Earl’s physical strength. His memory and language are a challenge so she firms up the plans. As his caregiver, Jennifer asked him if he was worried for what the future held for them with regard to their diseases. Earl replied, “I’m not worried, but I know that sometimes you are. We’re gonna keep on pushing. We’ll be alright.”