- (An appeal to my Behance friends, followers and patrons.)
I reached up, and took down the picture from Dad’s dresser. “Check out Grand-pa, honey,” I said to my daughter in a low voice, since he was in the other room. “This is when he visited us in Austin for the first time, after we moved there, and before you were born.”
- She wasn’t too fazed. For the most part, she has only known (in her memory) my father more in the state he’s in now, rather than the more robust man in the picture from not that long ago.
- My Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a slowly progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder, in 2007, though his symptoms developed about a year before. No tremors, but his walk became more and more shuffled, his voice became fainter and more hesitant, his sense of smell gone, more hunched over and, most disturbing, the slow creep of the “masked face”.
Living far from Dad, each visit comes with some dread. How much worse is he going to be or look? But I am the son…I have to visit. And my daughter must see him too. Anyway, my step-mother and sister have seen and dealt with the progression every day from the start. (This dedication is as much for them as for Dad.)
Dad doesn’t work anymore, but misses it. With motor skills shot, driving is not an option anymore either. Ever the handyman, more and more house chores are becoming too much for him. Inside, he is frustrated and depressed by what he has become. And who wouldn’t, if they were in his shoes. He’s 66, going on 76 (or maybe even 86).
Another scary reality: Neuro disorders/diseases run in the family, through three different gene pools. Parkinson’s took my paternal great-uncle (my grandfather’s brother), and it was strokes that laid-out my mother and paternal grandmother into nursing facilities, and ultimately killed them, too. As for myself, I take a mild hypertension medication to hopefully stave off the inevitable.
But he and we live on to see another day.
- If you are reading this, I ask you to educate yourselves about Parkinson’s Disease, if not donate to the following organizations, or similar in your home country.
National Parkinson Foundation
Listing of partner organizations of the World Parkinson Congress
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
It is not a matter of “buying time” and living forever. It’s about giving people their dignity and freedom back. There must be a cure somewhere, somehow. Thank you.
To Dad, all my family, and to all other victims & survivors worldwide, with love and hope,