A QUICK 14 YEARS

I don’t have Parkinson’s disease. I don’t know what it feels like other than a broken heart.

My Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s around 2003. It was around the time my sister was transitioning her life on Earth from AIDS. It seemed, so we thought, that he had a little stroke or something, but it turned out is was Parkinson’s with which he was going to live with for the rest of his life.

You cannot imagine what it is like to watch a former football player, race car driver and hydroplane boat racer shuffle across the floor, struggling to find a steady gait. Here’s a man who once built telecom systems for the Shuttle Recovery System Ronald Regan witnessed for goodness sake! And now we’re watching him trying to find his mouth before the food shakes off his spoon.

Then he gets injections of Botox to help him swallow the soft foods, because he can no longer enjoy a steak. This is one of the worst diseases I have ever witnessed… first we watch our sister succumb to AIDS, a whole other story, now this.

Parkinson’s’ took Dad’s life a little tiny bit at a time, breaking our hearts at each step. Yes, it is very frustrating to the person affected, and so heart breaking to watch one you love become debilitated by a something you cannot stop. All you can do is hope the medication cocktail “they” prescribe will help ease some symptoms and pain. One day, as life progresses, you find your loved one face down in the driveway because he fell, breaking bones and gashing his head.

No one wants to give up their independence. Who wants to be seen using a walker or be in a wheel chair that you no longer have the strength to propel? Yet, here we are again years later, he’s just skin and bones as his organs start to fail and the pain’s so intense, as infections take over the body, no longer able to do the trick of taking a deep breath before speaking, and speaking on the exhale, in order to communicate.

Communication now takes a different toll. Better to just talk with those who understand you. Those who come to visit. I don’t recall him knowing a pilot from WWII but yet, he just had a conversation with him. He just stared upward towards the ceiling and talked with those invisible beings. Are these the ones who will finally lift him out of his frustration and suffering from this terrible disease? I believe so. I called him on the phone and he listened as I said “Daddy, I love you. We all miss you.” A tear rolled down his face

As my family left for dinner, the final door closed. He went to sleep. He left on his terms. No witnesses; back with his wife taken from cancer, back with his daughter taken from AIDS.

The cure is near, I hope soon some people will give generously to help bring it about.

Kathy Schriefer’s Dad died February 21, 2017.

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