are better than others. After spending long hours in the dead of night by my father's bedside, watching his body slowly erode from under his cognizant mind. I have gotten quite used to the spectrum of quality in an aging person's life. Some days he loved the world and his life because he was still here. Other days....well, not so much so.
My father was afflicted with Parkinson's Disease. Some of you may not know what exactly Parkinson's Disease is, so I will give a brief explanation. You lose nerve impulse control between your brain and your muscles. He was diagnosed back in 1998, and lived with it until his passing in November of 2002. My dad was an intellect. He graduated high school over in lil' ol' Abilene. He then enrolled at Hardin Simmons in Abilene before tranferring to The University of Texas. He got his degree and enlisted in the military. Officer candidate school was just a stepping stone for him to start his long military career. He retired from the reserves a "full bird" and while completing his twenty, he managed a masters in education from Sul Ross. After all this and a second long career in the oil bidness, he still managed to obtain TWENTY-ONE more associate degrees from the local junior college. He was still enrolled and taking classes up to the point when his disease literally kept him from going to class. My father was also a very good athlete. Besides being a golden gloves boxing champ out of Abilene, he also excelled in basketball, handball, volleyball and more.
So when his body started shutting down, the doctors offered him two different types of medication to help with the complications of the disease. The first drug helped with the body's motor skills (walking, getting up and down, using the hands, etc.), while the second drug helped with the speech control. He had to choose between mobility and communication. He chose communication, which meant he had to sacrifice his independence in mobility. Not an easy choice. Now you might understand how I could watch his body erode, while keeping him company so that his razor sharp mind could still get some exercise. It was by his bedside in the dead of night, watching football games and old movies, that we hashed out a lot of our hard feelings over a few rum drinks. Many were our conversations and many were the regrets we each had, but we could both see clearly now that we loved each other very much. There is much I would like to redo in my life, as there was for him.
Fast forward to yesterday. It has been almost six years since my dad has passed. Now, my mother has been diagnosed with.....Parkinson's Disease. For the love of me, I can't remember the names of the drugs my dad took. I do see my mother's physical abilities withering away. Her mind is not quite all there sometimes, too. So, as I do some of the neccesary chores around mom's house, I got really depressed when I saw her with her head in her hands, just slowly scratching at her scalp. I asked what she was doing and she couldn't remember. It was like she was in La-La land. It just crushed me. Such is life, today may well be a better day. I hope for her that it is.
6 months ago