By Pam Kragen. Originally published on April 3, 2020, in The San Diego Union-Tribune. Reprinted with permission.
Joyce Kriesmer, 91, bangs a colander as she and her identical twin sister Jackie Voskamp waves a scarf on their balcony at the Vi at La Jolla Village senior living complex in La Jolla on Wednesday. Every weekday afternoon, the high-rise complex hosts a balcony pep rally for its residents who are sheltering in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Hayne Palmour IV / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
La Jolla — For two weeks now, Jackie Voskamp and Joyce Kriesmer have barely left the apartment they share at the Vi at La Jolla Village senior complex. The 91-year-old identical twins are in a high-risk age group for COVID-19, so they have been in self-imposed lockdown.
The sisters have stopped taking their daily 1-mile outdoor walks and doing stair-climbing exercises. They’ve also given up shopping, bridge games, visits with their family and meals outside their apartment. Fortunately, the lifelong best friends have each other’s company in isolation and they relish the Vi’s recently launched 10-minute “pep rallies.”
In this 1947 magazine photo, then-teenage twins Joyce Kriesmer, left, and Jackie Voskamp meet Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, lower left. The now La Jolla-based sisters, who recently turn 91, spent several decades in Saudi Arabia. (Courtesy photo)
At 2:30 p.m. each weekday, more than 100 residents head out to their balconies to join employees in the courtyard below in singalongs, exercises, cheers, sign-waving and general noise-making to let off steam, soak up some sunshine and get a bit of exercise.
“We come back into the apartment with a big smile on our faces every day,” said Joyce, who said she loves to “make a big racket” at the rallies by banging a metal bowl with a spoon. Her sister Jackie calls the events a “big shot in the arm” for the healing power they have.
Credit: The San Diego Union-Tribune. Reprinted with permission.