Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: Liz Jonckheer

Each week we will be picking three (3) members to spotlight to tell their alzheimer's story and why they are running in this year's New York City marathon. Check in each day or week for new updates on who will be spotlighted and get to know your teammates...(each person is picked at random)

SPOTLIGHT: Liz Jonckheer

My Nana was born Ariadna Bloomberg in Manchuria, China, but the year she was born remains a mystery. As children, my siblings and I would incessantly ask cunning questions like; What year were you born? How old was Poppy when you were born? How old were you when you had our dad? Nana never fell for our tricks. In her proper English accent she would calmly reply, “I’m ageless, darling”.

Nana is a great teacher, and I feel very fortunate to have grown up close to her. She has a fabulous sense of style and always looks impeccable. There is plenty of photographic evidence that she loved to help me get dolled up as well! Being confident no matter what you’re wearing is an invaluable lesson she taught me at an early age.

Nana lived all over the world, and introduced us to many different types of food - Piroskies, Borscht, Deviled Eggs, Dim Sum, Baked Alaska and Pavlova were just a few favorites. Open mindedness and finishing everything on your plate were two house rules we found easy to follow, thanks to her magnificent cooking.

When my siblings and I were young, and lucky enough to spend the night, she would serve us breakfast in bed, on a white wicker platter we would receive one poached egg, ½ a grapefruit and a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice. Tradition and being generous to family has always been her top priority.

Exercise was very important to Nana as well. Every morning she would take long walks and constantly reminded us about how important it is to be healthy. Unfortunately she is no longer able to go on long walks but she loves to cruise the Farmer’s Market with my dad every Saturday morning. I was fortunate enough to join Nana and my father at the market last week.

Nana’s diagnosis is Vascular Dementia, and she lives in a skilled nursing facility in Northern California. I believe that going to the Market is a special event for Nana and she is always eager to try every type of food we purchase. I think about her often and while it is very difficult to see her deteriorate, I continue to learn from her. She is extremely positive and lives completely in the moment. When I ask Nana how she is, she always replies, “Much better now that you are here”. I love her dearly.

Running The New York City Marathon has been a dream of mine for years, and this year will be my first marathon ever. I am running for Nana, my family, friends and loved ones who have been affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases.

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