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Maria Shriver talks about Alzheimer's
Your father, Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps, is suffering from Alzheimer's, right? How old is he now? He is 93. This was someone with a beautiful, sharp, in-tune mind. Now he doesn't know my name, but I always introduce myself to him, and he flashes a smile. Maria Shriver, daughter of Peace corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, is a writer, journalist and first lady of California.
Maria Shriver talks about Alzheimer's
In the Twilight
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
Published: April 23, 2009
You are the co-producer of a four-part series for HBO, "The Alzheimer's Project," and I wonder if you've noticed that Alzheimer's has become a popular and probably overused punch line now that baby boomers are turning gray and becoming more forgetful.
I like to make jokes; I consider myself a funny person. I just think making jokes about people who are in a situation beyond their control is not funny to them or their families.
But is it permissible to joke at your own expense? As in: "I can't find my keys. I must have incipient Alzheimer's."
If someone says to me, "I'm worried because I can't find my keys," I say, "You should only be worried if you put your keys in the refrigerator."
Your father, Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps, is suffering from Alzheimer's, right? How old is he now?
He is 93. This was someone with a beautiful, sharp, in-tune mind. Now he doesn't know my name, but I always introduce myself to him, and he flashes a smile.
Are you a member of the Alzheimer's Study Group, whose chairmen are Newt Gingrich and Bob Kerrey, who are trying to devise a national plan for conquering the disease?
You sound like my mother. You think I'm not doing enough. I've got four kids, three of whom are teenagers and one of whom is 11, and I have a full plate as first lady of California. I also have two sick parents. I have a miniature horse and three dogs and a pig. That's why I can't be on the Alzheimer's Study Group.
You seem like a natural spokeswoman for a disease. You're visible, and you look like Wonder Woman with those cheekbones.
I'm not a superhero. Trust me, I'm not. I'm definitely not that. I am barely getting by.
Are you still living in Los Angeles?
Yes, I am a California girl.
And your husband, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, commutes from L.A. to the Capitol building in Sacramento?
Yes. He goes back and forth on a plane.
So he's gone from Monday to Friday?
It depends. Every week is different, but he'll be watching the HBO special.
How do you know?
I hope he will. It would be good if he did.
Has he seen it yet?
No, he hasn't seen it. They're watching other things in my house. They're watching the Lakers.
Do you think he will stay in politics after his term expires next year?
I have no idea what he's going to do. That's the truth. He's termed out.
Perhaps he wants to run for the U.S. Senate?
He has said he doesn't, so I guess I'd take him at his word.
Did you vote for him for governor when he ran in 2003?
Yes, I did. It was the first time I voted Republican.
Soon after, you left your job at NBC because it was considered a conflict of interest for a reporter to be the wife of a governor.
It was hard. A lot of things go when you lose your job, and it doesn't matter who you are. It's a loss of identity, it's a loss of structure, it's a loss of your passion depending on the role the job played in your life. This was the second time I lost my job. I was fired from "Morning News," which was devastating to me.
That was at CBS? Why were you fired?
They fired the whole show.
Did you ever see that unsettling film "Away From Her," in which Julie Christie plays an Alzheimer's patient?
I watched half of it. I sobbed, and then I turned it off. I couldn't handle it.
In that case, why should anyone watch your HBO show?
This is not going to make you laugh. But it will move you. When this is over, you can always go out and rent "Wedding Crashers."
Links to Related Topics (Tags):
Headlines: April, 2009; Maria Shriver; Sargent Shriver; Medicine; California
When this story was posted in May 2009, this was on the front page of PCOL:
Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
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