A Parkinson's Love Story · Parkinson's Resource Organization

A Parkinson's Love Story


I pity the type “A” personalities—people who have to be great at everything. They need to learn that life requires balance. Decide to be successful doing what you want to be successful doing, and give all your effort. Decide it’s okay to not be successful at everything.

On the other hand, I wanted to be successful at being a student and I was. I wanted to be successful at being a lawyer and I am. I wanted to be successful at playing softball and I was. I wanted to be successful as a father and I am convinced that I am now. I want to be successful at living life to the fullest with Parkinsons and I am.

Finally, I wanted to be successful as a significant other for someone someday. Coincidently, that day has just arrived. It’s an unbelievable story. I thought no one would enter into a long-term relationship with me in light of my Parkinson’s and the prospect of being my caregiver. I was wrong. I met an angel who fell in love with me, as I did with her. She is a personal trainer and nutritionist to boot. I found the “One.” Truly what I call Absolute Love.

I met my Bernadette on January 7, 2012, in the Virgin Islands. We got married seven weeks later on February 26! Talk about courageous stories. Bernadette’s decision to take on my situation truly inspires me.

As I said, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s ten years ago at the age of 42. Fortunately, I have had a very slow progression, but that could change at any time.

I decided to go to the Virgin Islands to meet up with old friends who were there for a conference. I casually invited my brother who surprised me by accepting. My father got wind of the trip and invited himself. Needless to say, the prospect of having twenty-one consecutive meals with my father and brother was a little daunting.

Two days before the trip, I did a match search of the Virgin Islands with the intention of just enjoying a nice meal and obtaining information on the islands. I got much more than I ever could have imagined.

My flight left Kentucky at 6:00 am so I had to wake up by 4:00 am. Upon arrival in St. Thomas, I touched base with one of my Match.com connections and we made plans five hours later for her to take the ferry from St. John to the Red Hook terminal in St. Thomas. On the trip from the airport, the taxi driver locked his keys in the car with my luggage and phone! I had no way of touching base with her and had to wear the same clothes that I traveled in all day.

I found out that the taxi ride to Red Hook was $20 each way. With no way for us to communicate, I had no idea if she would show up. She had to pay $12 to take the ferry with no confirmation that I would be there.

When she walked off the boat, she took my breath away. My only thought was, “I have found my future, my one and only.” We spent most of the next week together. I left on January 14. She moved to Louisville on January 31 and we were married that February.  Absolute Love.

Story submitted by John Baumann 

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Updated: August 16, 2017