Parkinson's takes terrible toll
Somebody call the authorities. There has been a string of devastating robberies worldwide.
The culprit of the heinous crime is named Parkinson.
Sharon loved to dance. She looked forward to her retirement from her county mediator position thinking she could go out dancing every night, instead of just weekends. She would sashay across the street to my house, smiling and spinning her colorful skirt.
Shortly after she retired she began shaking a little, and then forgetting things. It is Parkinson's disease. She was robbed of her brain function, and now at just 72 years old, she's frail and in a care home because she can no longer walk across a room without breaking a bone. Her words are so garbled that the last time I saw her, a few weeks ago, she said I shouldn't call her anymore because she knows she can't form sentences correctly. It frustrates and embarrasses her. It breaks my heart and there's nothing I can do for the woman who lived across the street from me for 23 years in California. She attended all my children's functions, never forgot a birthday and helped me bury my old dog Duke while it was pouring rain. She's a part of my family and every day she slips away a little more.
There is now an excruiating space between life and death. I find myself feeling the guilt of wishing for God's mercy to release her from this pain coupled with the unreasonable desire for the return of the vital, vibrant and coherent woman I once knew.
I also watch as a comedian friend from New York writes to his friends, "Parkinson's is killing me. Please is anyone around tomorrow hoping to stop by I mean who could stop by breakfast when 01 breakfast café 101please think of me in your prayers please."
I'll leave his name out, but he has done hundreds of movies. He's still traveling the country doing stand-up. I suppose he will until he dies, and that doesn't seem too far away.
Here's the last message I got from him after I wished him a happy birthday: "So u funny too thanks for the Day birthday wish cool funny and adorable MandyMandy. I will be in Portland in May gettogether for lunch or dinner?"
Death sucks. But there's an especially pointed pain that comes along with the kind of illness that robs people of the ability to use their bodies. These are people who know what's happening to them and they can't verbalize it, but I can tell they feel it. There is pain in their eyes and the desire to communicate emulates with every movement. The disease just derails them and that train just goes careening off the tracks over rocks and flowers and down a canyon, just gaining inertia.
So, the last time I saw Sharon, I sat with her in the living room of my old house and she tapped her foot to my husband's music. It made me smile and cry all at once.
Then something happened, when he played "House of the Rising Sun," she smiled and sang along – every word. It was beautiful. It was a moment. Sometimes that's all we have.