It seems strange that I’ve had an unwelcomed guest as part of my life for the last almost eleven years, and God only knows how long before then when thoughts turned to the usual arthritis, pinched nerve, stress, back problems, and countless other “issues” that made life uncomfortable but with never a thought given to Parkinson’s Disease. As of five and a half years ago, the weight of the world being lifted with an initial diagnosis, even if it was PD, and being able to breathe after a second opinion, were short-lived for me when the light at the end of the tunnel was not what it seemed, it was worse, and the light was another train coming at me at full speed. Those of you whom have experienced depression or battle with it each day know that it is not a matter of saying that you choose to live without it. It takes a hold of every fiber of your being and refuses to let go. I can say with a great degree of certainty that I have lived with the symptoms of depression for about 26 of my 47 years. It is an enigma, yet so much of a reality for those of us dealing with it, along with an incurable disease, and everything that life throws at us as a result of living with PD. I remember going back in for a follow up visit with my local neurologist, sitting in the waiting area, across from a man in a wheelchair whom was experiencing awful tremors. I then looked at my wife sitting beside me and heard her ask, “What are you thinking?” Without hesitation, my response was, “Suicide”. I share this background information to let you know of some pretty special kids that I’ve been blessed to have been placed in my life to deal with the unwanted, uninvited, and unwelcomed Parkinson’s Disease and its related symptoms. For those of you whom have had the support of children (and even nieces, nephews, and grandchildren), you understand that God has placed these angels among us to help us on our journey. Mine happen to be named Amber, Ashley, Alisha and Landon.
The youngest advocate in the world for Parkinson’s Disease awareness is what I have termed my grandson Landon.
This little man whom hung the moon, stole my heart, and took my breath away the day he was born has saved my life on several occasions without knowing it. During the darkest time of my life when the days were long and the nights even longer and I didn’t feel the need to continue my life as I saw it unfold, he was there to keep me from thinking of the worst because I had a precious baby that my daughter Amber had entrusted me to care for and nurture. Did she know what she was doing for me when checking on me and asking how I was and how things were going? Probably not, yet a life-saver nonetheless. When I was by myself, the question was not that I wanted to end it all, but what was the quickest way to do it. Angels sent to save me? Without a doubt! The one who hung the moon, stole my heart and to this day, continues to take my breath away will tell you that if you shake, you need to see a doctor to get medicine because you might have “Parkins Disease”.
As with all things related to a life-altering experience, we tend to focus inward, perhaps thinking that no one understands what we’re going through. That may be true but we also need to realize that our kids experience fears of the unknowns that take hold of us and send us into a tailspin at times. It took me several months to realize that this disease was more than just me and that there were many more people in worse shape than me. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks and I sat down to write a letter to each of the youngest girls to explain what I was experiencing and how they were being affected and what the future held for them living with a dad with PD. Ashley was 15 and Alisha was 12 at the time of my PD diagnosis. Each received a personal letter which I have gone back and read my copy of each. I’d like to share just a few lines from each, which describe how I felt about them then, and how that feeling of gratitude and love has grown exponentially. Were they sent to save me? Quite possibly. Angels among us? Without a doubt!
“You are good about noticing the bothersome things that make it hard to deal with, and I want to thank you for being so thoughtful. Why do I have this disease? I don’t know. Only God knows that answer. The way I respond to what has been placed in my and our lives is what will make us better people in the end. I will be honest and tell you that I have a hard time dealing with this thing that will be with me for the rest of my life. As for what you can do, let me tell you that you are and have been my angel that cares about what I am going through and are willing to help make things better, but you should also not do anything different than what you’ve been doing. Each of us has a life to lead that should be lived to the fullest. Your future should not be impacted by my condition in that your plans and dreams should continue to be sought. I ask you to pray for me and us so that God will give us the courage to fight this thing to the end. Keep the faith that you so dearly find as a source in your daily life. I know that your prayers are heard on high and one day we will look back on this chapter in our lives as that of a learning experience and a character building experience that will make us better people. I hope to make you proud of how we help people in the future and with your help, I’d love to hear these words from you, ‘Dad, remember when you had Parkinson’s Disease?’ That is when I will know that our job here on Earth is done. Thanks again and may God bless you always and all ways.”
Angel Update: Amber and her husband Jarred are the proud parents of a second grader whom told Pop Pop last week that I can be his caddy when he becomes a golf pro. We have a gentleman’s agreement that I will receive $2000 per week plus expenses and 10% of his earnings. His comment was, “Just get it set up Pop Pop”. Ashley is a college senior scheduled to graduate from the University of North Texas in December and Alisha started her college career at Midland College with plans to transfer to Angelo State University next year.
Angels that were sent to save me continue their work in other facets of their lives. God is good.
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:1-2