By Beverly Biziewski
Accompanied by friend and fellow American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) member Joan Bermingham, we were off to Anaheim, California, to attend the convention.
I went, not only as St. John AARP Chapter 4777 President, but as one eager to see Elton John.
Ironically, the high points were not him, although his performance was wonderful, but in-stead…Dan Rather, who reminisced of presidential interviews and left us with the motto “better to wear out then rust out;” and Carl Reiner, who along with having us laughing hysterically every minute, made a heart-warming gesture.
Reiner told us how he was looking for a woman he’d been friends with when they were 16 years old and had not seen her for more than 70 years, but heard she’d be at the convention. He began by calling out for her over and over for the two front row seats he saved for her and her husband.
When they didn’t appear, he continued his routine until the very end when he again called out and this time a little lady and man came down the aisle from way in the back. The hugging and kissing that took place brought us all to our feet with wet eyes and much applause.
Bill Cosby never changed his dour expression but had everyone laughing steadily for more than two hours. He is the best.
Noted songster and guitarist Jose Feliciano, a man blind from birth, shared his creative gift which brought a deafening applause. Newscaster Connie Chung (wife of Maury Povich, who she commented on more than once!) showed a whole other side of herself as a comedian; truly very funny.
Maya Angelou Wisdom
Maya Angelou sharing the stage with Geena Davis, spoke her precious pearls of wisdom touching one and all.
Commenting on the many aspects of her life, she told how she would never say no if asked to do something and even if she didn’t know how, would answer “I can by Friday,” because she knew if she said no she’d never be asked again.
Even Sly Stallone did a walk on, touting his new film “Rocky Balboa,” and Joan Rivers got in on the act, as she waved from above to the masses merging for the opening show!
The numbers were astronomical! Thousands of exhibitors were there welcoming members from the more than 2,200 chapters. Two thousand, seven hundred members attended the convention. Seven hundred California members created the three-day affair.
Millions of Members
The helpful attendants wore chartreuse shirts and members were given chartreuse goody bags. Our presence in Anaheim was glaring. There are 3 million California AARP members, but would you believe there are 37 million members nationally! Honors were given to the 37th million member with a lifetime membership, check for $5,000 and a basket of gift certificates.
We took in the San Diego Zoo which is magnificent — especially the 275-pound pandas! We saw the Crystal Cathedral, but only from the bus.
At the opening, there was a young dance group from the New Orleans Center For Crea-tive Arts that had been billed for last year’s convention and be-cause of Katrina had been cancelled — they were refreshing and most entertaining.
One million, six hundred thousand dollars was donated to New Orleans and Katrina from AARP. We were shown the rebuilding of a house by AARP volunteers for one of its volunteer members. It was humbling to hear her gratitude.
There were many book signings — Dan Rather, Bill Cosby, Carl Reiner, Martina Navratilova, Dr. Roizen (seen speaking about the body with Dr. Oz on the Oprah show), Bill Novelli (AARP CEO) and others. California Governor Arnold (Schwarzenegger) sent his best.
We missed seeing Raquel Welch, Ruby Dee, Betty White, Billy Blanks, Terry Bradshaw and others. There was more to see than time permitted.
Large areas of computers were in front of eager faces waiting to learn how. There were advance ment courses offered also. Many health fairs were conducted as well as retail booths. There was information for all on just about every and anything.
As there was still one more pocket of the luggage to fill, the last day was spent shopping at the mall!
This wonderfully extravagant, well coordinated and choreographed convention was due to the backing of Home Depot, Anheuser-Busch, National and hundreds of California AARP members. We thank them all as it was the best!
Next up? September 6 to 8, 2007, in Boston! “It’s Revolutionary,” see you there!
The St. John AARP Chapter 4777 meets every third Thursday of the month at Nazareth Lutheran Hall at 5 p.m. in Cruz Bay.