Marcel’s Story!

Julie is Marcel’s new-found friend. Interestingly, Julie’s daughter, Anna, decided to check Marcel out. One day, Anna called Marcel and asked him to meet her in the common room downstairs. Anna wanted to know all there was to know about Marcel.

Marcel had previously prepared his resume in order to obtain a good place to live in Williamsburg, so Marcel smiled at Anna and presented his profile:

Marcel Wade, Ph.D., is a retired corporate research scientist and an octogenarian Asian American. Marcel’s experience in the West commenced about 60 years ago as an international student at a Canadian University. He completed his doctorate in biomedical science. During his stay in Canada, Marcel fell in love with Sonia, an Asian-Western woman who was also a graduate student. They got married and had a beautiful daughter named Abigail. Marcel moved back to his native state, Jammu, and Kashmir, in India. Due to political turmoil in the country, Marcel and his family transferred to the United States about 50 years ago. Following an initial struggle, Marcel found a position as a research scientist with a food company in New York; he worked there while living with his family in Westchester County, New York. After retirement, Marcel and his wife moved to Maui, Hawaii, while their daughter continued her studies at Columbia University. Abigail became a doctor and is currently a practicing physician in Hawaii. Her husband, John, is also a doctor, and they live on the main island of Hawaii. Marcel’s wife, Sonia, left Marcel to be with an artist; she said goodbye to Marcel and got married. Marcel then left Maui and settled in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Marcel voluntarily showed Anna the report he had received from one of the neurological psychologists who had tested him for many psycho-neurological abnormalities, including behavior. One sentence in this report stated, “Marcel is a good man.” Since Marcel wanted to be Julie’s friend and knew that Anna took care of her mother, he felt that Anna had the right to know all about him. Marcel did not mind this as he has nothing to hide. Marcel considers himself to be a high-quality person. Anna was happy to find out that her mother has a good friend. Julie can take care of herself only up to a certain point and therefore has a companion service dog.


The Secret of Saffron

The Secret of Saffron

 Sometimes, Marcel wonders, what is so special about saffron! Marcel worked with Selina in her art school on many days to know more about the saffron. Selina would go through her album with paintings and photos of saffron and slowly explain to Marcel what she knows about saffron. Selina once told Marcel, “I remember better when I paint.”[1] Marcel pays attention what Selina has to say because, at times, it is tough for her to describe what she knows. Marcel listened very attentively what she says.

She always carries an album and her portable painting kit with her wherever she goes. Selina mostly depicts the variety of saffron flowers and their inhabitants, and tells many stories of growing and gathering saffron and its many uses. Marcel have had saffron flavored dishes before but never seen a flower or does not quite know what saffron is like. Selina showed Marcel a page from one of her albums depicting a saffron flower.

Selina believes that she has discovered the secret of saffron. The secret is in a particular variety of saffron. Depending upon the type where it is grown and how it is handled, its potency and efficacy are different as its color and fragrance.

Selina convinced Marcel that she had studied many varieties of saffron in the past to understand them and have kept notes. She believes that certain variety saffron in diet can help improve mild cognitive impairments at old age. As an artist, Selina specializes in saffron color –red, yellow and orange. The unique color of saffron may stimulate your brain, while color painting is a known way to rejuvenate your mind. The presence of many carotenoids in saffron causes its intense color. The single most important saffron pigment carotenoid such as crocin cause the intense color of saffron. Marcel felt that day that in spite of her illness Selina was doing a good job.

 The History:

Saffron was known to the Sumerians (modern days southern Iraqis) almost 5,000 years ago. The documented history of saffron cultivation spans more than three millennia.[2]…Saffron was detailed in 7th century BC Assyrian botanical reference compiled under Ashurbanipal. Documentation of saffron’s use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered.

Its propagation is possible only via corms; for saffron to be distributed over vast distances requires human help. Its’ beautiful flowers cannot produce any seeds. Its propagation is possible only via corms. Distribution over larger distance requires human help. Saffron, Crocus sativus probably appeared first in Crete (Greece).

Iran’s southern provinces, Kerman and Khorasan region represent bulk of modern saffron production. Greece and Morocco and India produces large quantities of saffron. Microscale production of saffron can be found in other parts of the world, including the United States. Saffron is not widely used in America because of culture. Europeans introduced saffron to Americas when immigrant brought corms with their luggage. American saffron cultivation survives into modern days, mainly in Pennsylvania. In Europe, saffron production is almost limited to the Mediterranean. Spanish (La Mancha) saffron has a reputation to be of high quality.

In recent days Saffron is cultivated from the Spain and India (Kashmir). Stories are diverse depending on where it is grown or found. Spanish saffron maybe a good variety. Kashmiri saffron has a high reputation but is hardly available outside India. It is produced in a small area around a village town in Jammu and Kashmir. Flowers show up for an about two weeks at the end of October or the beginning of November. They are picked from the plants (to stimulate more flower formation), and styles are separated and waste afterward. Including the final drying of the styles, all the work is done by families that use little or no modern technology.


[2] Saffron – Wikipedia

Sorry to Say: “Good Bye Selina.”

It was a Sunday morning when a doorbell rang to Marcel’s home and it was Marcel’s wife who opened the door. At the door, it was Lisa and Robert. They never visited Marcels before at their place. So, Marcels were surprised. They invited Lisa and Robert in and had them sit comfortably in the living room. Lisa and Robert realized that Marcels were surprised.

Lisa is the one who said in a low voice: “We are going to see Sofia, would you two like to come along with us?”

Marcel said, looking towards his wife for instant approval: “Sure, what’s wrong?”

Robert answered, without looking towards his wife (Lisa started crying): “Just heard from David that Selina passed away. Selina’s sudden death was due to falling downhill while walking in a village. It was an instant death. Bobby was with her.” They did not know anything more.

“We have to tell that to Sofia. Find out the details later,” said Marcel’s wife.

“Do not know how to tell her,” said Lisa.

“Yes, it is a big issue.” Marcel sat down in a chair and said we need to figure this out. Sofia won’t be able to take it. It’s hard for Marcel’s too.

While all four were thinking and their brains were going numb, Marcel’s wife volunteered to tell Sofia. All were a bit relieved. Marcel’s wife suggested that one of them call Sofia and meet them at a nearby children’s park and give a reason, like, Marcel wants to talk to Sofia—nothing more. She suggested that Robert should make the call just in case Lisa started crying over the phone. Robert agreed. The plan worked, and Sofia did show up.

All of them met at a children’s park that same afternoon. Sofia was surprised to see all of them there and noticed their mood from their faces.

Before any conversion started, Marcel’s wife said, just like a command: “Sofia, sit down beside me.” And then, she held her hand and delivered these words: “Sofia your mama’s soul is in heaven. May God be with her.”

Sofia was as calm as a stone. Her tear drops were slowly sliding down the chin like little water fountains on a mountain, sliding down slowly. Marcel knew Sofia is a strong woman. So is Marcel’s wife. They hugged, and all of us just stood there watching.

Later that day, Marcel learned from Robert that Amina, David, Nadia, and Reza already took a flight to Morocco on Sunday early in the morning. Sofia, Lisa, and Robert will fly tomorrow morning. Marcel’s wife and Marcel do not travel at all. Marcel, he was sad.

It was Selina’s wish that she should lay to rest near a Saffron field. So, the family made the arrangements accordingly.

In a week, Marcel met Sofia, Lisa, and Robert. They were back from Morocco. Everything went well as planned. The last word that Selina spoke was “Sofi,”

A month later, Marcel heard that Sofia made a new commitment to spend the rest of her life as a caregiver. She decided to work in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Why I Do What I Do…

This is why!

I took the wheelchair handle from Selina’s daughter’s grip and walked with her. I walked with Selina on many days. I listened very carefully what she had to say. Mostly she was talking about her recent experience with other elders who she teaches in her art class. Her experiences were telling her that it is critical that we keep our brain active for coping with old age memory loss. She still believes that saffron use in diet can help the improvement of mild cognitive impairments at old age. A tough love for saffron.
She said to me: “Will you write about saffron and the old age memory loss story for me; people has the right to know how to handle themselves at old age.”

Her granddaughter Diana and Diana’s husband Kumar both are neuroscientists. I spoke with them. They both are continuing Selina’s work on understanding old age memory loss and how to’s to slow it down. They have the permission from Selina to use her life-long work on saffron.

My brief walk with Selina changed the way I view the world. I begin to see the value of Selina’s vision of magic of saffron. Humanity matters.

So, I decided to write the story of you at old age. We are sensitive to our surroundings, who we are at old age depending upon where we have been.

Dementia: A Public Health Priority:

November is our National Alzheimer’s Disease Month.

First, what is Alzheimer’s disease? Dr. Alois Alzheimer was the first to describe this condition as a “peculiar disease” and hence the name Alzheimer was given. It affects the brain of a person, and as it progresses, the proteins in the brain of the individual begin to accumulate and form tangles. The tangles disrupt the connection of two nerve cells and die causing the brain tissue is damaged. When this happens, one will find it difficult to learn something new. At the early stage, it will attack the part of the brain which is called hippocampus. The primary role of the hippocampus is in remembering activities that happen in our daily lives. Now when it gets damaged, we tend to forget things. At the early stages, one won’t have loss of memory that happens a long time ago.

My suggestion would be to get involved this month and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. It was President Ronald Reagan who designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing — and growing fast. An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

Defy Mind Aging

Defy Mind Aging.

A mind does not age, does it? If it does, it ages to perfection; like aged wine.

The cognitive function of the brain may appear to decline with age, but scientific evidence is forthcoming to demonstrate that aging brain can even work better with life experiences in an otherwise healthy individual. It’s the mind that always remains young. What is wisdom? How the oldest old get so wise? To many of us, wisdom is constructed of a few interrelated dimensions, such as self-knowledge, a thorough understanding of others, life skills and knowledge, and experience. Wise judgment is the ability to absorb, integrate and apply information to one’s life and seeing through the complexity of a situation and finding the right direction. A wise develops wisdom through reflection and integration of what they know and apply to create something more meaningful by engaging and synthesizing a new idea, entity giving a new significant identity.

The aging mind is like Nature. Nature does not age either! It is the things in the Nature that may become old and then disappears to nowhere to complete the life-cycle. Nature has its cycle too, governed by the law of the universe and the Supreme power. A mind is like a flower in your garden of life. A human life has a mind, and it is aways young and beautiful. It can create and wait till the cycle ends and then joins the soul of the body. Leaves idea seeds around it. Some regrow there; some are swept away by the wind, nature’s friend. Sometimes humans move them for their purpose. No matter what, the mind grows through human bodies, and it is always young and beautiful.

Here is a story.

About six months ago, my wife and I went to a local art show where talented artists exhibit their talents in individual booths in an organized way. We noticed that one of the artists put a big canvas standing up on the ground having lots of paints and brushes around. It was open to everybody. Anyone could paint on it, anywhere, with any color they liked. We just stood there and watched. People are having fun on the canvas with brushes and colors. It was fun to watch. On the ground just beneath the painting where it stood up on a stand, there appeared some mud. A young boy about twelve-year-old stood there for a while and put his left hand down the ground, muddled his whole palm and put on the canvas. He kept doing it over and over and again on the same spot until it became a mud painted palm. It appeared to us that the boy was expressing a new idea of a change of the color of paint by putting a contrast with a mud-stained paint. The artist lady seating there encouraged the young mind to put mud shade on the canvas whatever way the boy wanted. We watched the show for a little while and moved on to the next. On our way back we stopped by that place where the canvas was still standing up. To our amazement, most of the palm mud impression drew by the kid on the art looked very different. It appeared as if a colorful skirt of a young girl was painted around, keeping a flat mud-stained palm on it. It looked stunning. It was beautiful. The owner of the canvas must be proud of her day’s outcome. She was packing up and about to leave. I could not resist asking the owner lady about it. She pointed out a man in a wheelchair nearby who redrew the painting. I was stunned. He was an ancient man and a young mind within that had changed it to a beautiful paint of a muddled hand on the waist of a young girl? His mind is still young and beautiful. I waved my hand towards him, and he nodded back. What a brilliant mind. We left.