My dad passed away 7 years and 49 days ago, but who is counting? He was diagnosed very late in life with Parkinson’s Disease. Looking back, and now knowing the signs, it all makes sense. We relied on an unreliable doctor in his care who never took the time to figure out why he struggled to walk and why he lost his sense of smell. We chalked them up to arthritis and after having a bad cold, respectively.
My sister invited me to join her on a fundraising walk this morning to benefit the on-going research and care for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The walk was held at a 158-acre botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park in my city. The morning was sunny and perfect for such an outdoor event. We were able to walk at our leisure and with nobody around us even though later we counted 17 round tables each seating 10 for the complimentary breakfast served after the walk.
We joined a table that was inhabited by an older husband/wife couple. The wife stepped away and the husband sat eating alone. From the tremor in his left hand and his stone-faced expression, I knew he had Parkinson’s. As he reached for his coffee, his tremor tipped the cup over and coffee instantly wet and stained the table cloth. I ran to get some napkins to sop up what I could; I didn’t know what else to do and I didn’t want him to feel embarrassed. His wife returned as I was placing napkins around and she said, “That sort of thing happens when you are not steady.” She said this matter-of-factly and I understood it was not meant as malicious.
I went about my business getting my breakfast from the delicious buffet prepared by caterers. As I ate my food I watched, from the corner of my eye, the man who spilled his coffee. My mind saw the man, but my heart saw my dad.
Shortly after my father passed away, I could only think of the final years of his life and the struggles that went with Parkinson’s Disease. Lately; however, I have been enjoying happier memories of when he could move about on his own, play horseshoes and lawn jarts, when he helped me fix my car and especially when I would visit with him, he would offer me a beer while we watched professional baseball on television.
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, know that there is a lot of research going on and many advances to help alleviate symptoms. There are many new support groups and services available for you and your caregivers that we did not know about after my dad was diagnosed.
If you feel lead to donate to this cause, you can do so here, or visit a Parkinson’s Disease chapter in your immediate area.
My dad passed away 7 years and 49 days ago, but today I felt him with us on the walk. I love you and miss you, dad. See you some day in heaven.
Matthew 25:36-40 (NIV)
36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’