A few weeks ago, I had conversations with two different people on the same day whom both asked the same question, “Do you think you were “called” to do this?” One was a fellow advocate and the other was a staffer with Texas Senator John Cornyn’s office.This “call” being one of becoming an advocate for awareness, education, and the best quality of life possible for people living with Parkinson’s Disease…. My response to both was “I think so”.
It struck me as odd that two people on the same day on opposite sides of the country would ask the same question. I’m thinking that this goes to show that we all have a purpose to fulfill in life. Mine just happens to remind me every day when I take my pills to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Have I dealt well with this disease? At first, no, but now a bit better. Has it changed me? At first, yes, but now I tend to deal with the changes with a bit more open-mindedness. Has my Parkinson’s Disease progressed? Oh, yes. Slightly, but slowly, yet surely. I’m not the man I used to be, plain and simple. I have more good days than bad and I am thankful that I can continue my work as a teacher. I used to think that teaching was my calling and I still take pride in what I am able to accomplish with, and for, my students. Now that this question has been posed by two people on the same day, perhaps the easy “call” has already been made and accepted. This “call” that I received somewhere along the way and that I accepted wholeheartedly is part of who I am, what I do, what I say, and most importantly and specifically, what I do for others from whom I expect nothing in return.
I have always been open and up-front about my life with PD. I’ve often joked that the fewest number of people who I will speak to about PD is…one. So, speaking to a crowd of one or a few hundred doesn’t bother me in the least. O.K. I do get a bit nervous but once I get started the nervousness just fades away. The message that I want to share comes from living with an incurable disease (actually two, I also deal with Essential Tremor every day). So, does being called mean being willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with this disease? Maybe. Does being called mean speaking out for those whom have not found their voice yet, in their struggle of living with PD? Perhaps. Does being called mean taking a leap of faith that what I have to say will make a difference in the lives of people living with PD that are doing well, some that have no one to turn to, and some that have lost hope? I hope so.
And this is why…
My family has been an integral part of my life as a person living with Parkinson’s Disease. Our parents instilled in us the fact that it was our duty and responsibility to provide help for the less fortunate. We didn’t know we didn’t have because we had what we needed, and that was more than enough when you added the unlimited love of our parents. By sharing, we received many more blessings than we gave. When I think of my family and what they have meant to me and their willingness to always lend a helping hand, I’m reminded of the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words.”
I am humbled by the number of people whom have shared their stories of dealing with PD and for that I am also thankful. Thankful that they feel comfortable in saying that they would have never thought of sharing such a deeply personal side of their lives but based on my willingness to share, they are able to look back on their lives and find some comfort in sharing. My heartfelt thanks to you!
In the meantime, perhaps God’s “call” in my case is best served by using words. I’ll let Him decide.