CAMBRIDGE - A few years ago, Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro was cooking paella for a gathering of friends at her home. One minute, the skillet was in her hand. The next minute, she was flat on the floor, having toppled over for no apparent reason. This would be a disturbing predicament at any age, but it was especially unsettling because she was in her late 60s at the time and in otherwise decent health. “I just remember thinking, ‘This has to be the beginning of the end,’ ’’ she recalls.
Her husband, retired Tufts University literature professor Gustavo Alfaro, rushed to her side and ushered her into the bedroom, where she proceeded to direct dinner preparations for the rest of the evening. The party went on. She was fine the next morning.