Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Day With Gifts and Parkinson's Disease

I woke up early this morning. Earlier than I had hoped, but nothing unusual. Each night's sleep is an uncertain journey, interrupted a few or many times depending on the extent of my PD-addled nocturnal preoccupations. Swinging my legs over the edge of the bed I find myself experiencing two wildly disparate feelings, one recurring and one new.

First, I am pleased, as I am every morning, that Parkinson's disease has not yet made it difficult to get out of bed. There is no stiffness that often plagues others who struggle to take their medication and wait for it to take effect before rising. I can only imagine the frustration of waiting, thinking of the necessary and pressing, as well as a desirable, things to be done.

Second, it is Father's Day. A collage of emotion collides with that realization. It has been 16 months now since I could express to my father my profound appreciation for all he did for me. I miss being able to articulate my gratitude to him, although that is not just an annual sense of loss. My memories of him, especially his living with Parkinson's disease, still school me in ways I never would have considered possible when I was younger. Thank you, Dad.

At the same time I am thankful for the opportunity to be a father, and grandfather. Although there is sometimes worry and heartache that go with the role and responsibility, there is also great joy and gratification. I have learned so many invaluable lessons from my children, and through my struggling to be the best father I can. Despite my many failures, I have a deep sense of peace that I have passed on to my children, as best I can, the values that are most important. Now I am much more the prayerful and caring bystander than the director or decision-maker for their lives. Which is as it should be.

Stepping into my den this morning, as my place to be alone with my thoughts, I was greeted by a large gift bag. On top was a card expressing my wife's appreciation for me as a Dad (very sweet, but entirely undeserved, as it is she who is the better parent). Inside the bag were two gifts, both entirely appropriate, thoughtful and cognizant of my ongoing wrestling match with PD. The first included a Starbucks gift card with a collection of travel-size toiletries: toothpaste, Chapstick, shampoo, deodorant and (hint, hint) mouthwash. As I will be leaving soon on a guy’s two-week motorcycle trip, these items express her support for my addiction to adventure despite my health challenges. Although I will need to ask her what I am supposed to use the antibacterial wipes for.

The second present was a state-of-the-art electro-energy converter, Arcitec RQ 1050, flex and pivot action, three-headed machine, also billed as "the world's closest rotary shave". You see, shaving has become a little more treacherous recently. Unless "death by 1000 cuts" is a literal form of execution, I doubt that I would have died from blood loss while shaving. However, shaky, left-handed, face scraping has redefined "safety razor". This new electronic device will sit alongside my electric toothbrush reminding me that as things get more difficult they can also be made easier.

Now, if I can only figure out how to turn this machine on! Oh well, I may have to read the instructions.


  1. Bob, I have read through all your blogs. You are an incredible writer, and this gift opens up an understanding for those of us who want to learn about this disease from the patient's point of view. What is so uplifting is to read with you as you "recalibrate" from day to day, how life changes while becoming more precious and through your eyes God's special gift.

    Thank you for your beautiful support of my blogs and for your prayers and thoughts for my husband and me.

    I add ours to you and your family. Your faith tolls the bell for all of us.

    Hugs, Bonnie

  2. Bonnie;
    I am humbled and encouraged by your comment, especially as you are someone who is experiencing the crucible of this cruel disease. May you have all it takes and more to endure, even flourish, in its purifying heat.