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From Acclaimed Flutist Eugenia Zukerman, A Lyrical Memoir of Coping with Forgetfulness, Confusion, and a Dreaded Diagnosis
Hailed by the Boston Globe as “an international triple threat...a published novelist, a television commentator and, most impressively, one of the finest flutists of our time,” Eugenia Zukerman worked hard and juggled it all—performing, writing, interviewing artists, directing concert series—with ease and grace. Until, in her early 70s, she became forgetful, misplacing papers, losing her words. Concerned, her daughters insisted she get tested. Eugenia, whose mother was sharp at 103, wasn’t worried. Until her sister, the doctor, reminded her: six of their mother’s siblings suffered cognitive decline and died in their 70s. Until the results of her neuro-psych exam and MRI confirmed: her cognitive impairment was real, and would only get worse.
Outraged and terrified, Zukerman vowed to do her best to handle her diagnosis “privately and purposefully.” She began to chronicle her unraveling, mostly in verse. Like Falling Through a Cloud (East End Press; November 5, 2019; $21.00) is the result—an intimate, courageous, heartbreaking, lyrical, and uplifting memoir of Eugenia Zukerman’s year of finding her way through the maze of confusion and brambles of loss. “I did seek help,” as she shares, “but what seems to have saved me from crumbling and falling apart was music, love, poetry, and, oddly, laughter.”
Like Falling Through a Cloud unfolds in fragments and rhymes, nightmares and revelations. Eugenia opens up about her childhood and therapy sessions; her fear of exposure, vulnerability, and public failure; her initial resistance (“I don’t want to have an evaluation about my devaluation.”) and creative coping strategies (“Instead of beating myself up when I can’t find a word, I’ll let it slowly emerge like the call of a distant bird.”) Gradually, Eugenia comes to accept the reality of living her life with a debilitating condition. In the process, she discovers her own remarkable bravery and resilience. What’s more, she recognizes how her story of going from terror and turbulence to giving thanks for another day and playing on might offer comfort to the millions of people grappling with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
EUGENIA ZUKERMAN is an internationally renowned flutist and writer. She was the artistic director of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado for 13 years and the arts correspondent on CBS Sunday Morning for more than 25 years. She is the author of two novels, two works of nonfiction, and numerous screenplays, articles, and book reviews. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1944, she graduated from the Julliard School of Music and lived in New York City for many years. A mother of two daughters and two grandchildren, she makes her home in upstate New York with her husband, two horses, three dogs, and assorted wildlife.
Published to coincide with Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, Like Falling Through a Cloud is a moving, courageous, lovely, and positive work. I hope you will be inspired to share Eugenia Zukerman’s story with your audience.