Posted tagged ‘Parkinson’s’

Answering the Why

August 4, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        August 4, 2019


A friend of mine lost her husband two days ago in a traffic accident. He was 45 and they are the parents of five children, the youngest two adopted as a result of their mission experiences in Africa.

They were in the midst of a move from Colorado Springs to another community about 30 minutes away when the accident happened. In other words, they had just uprooted from where they had lived for a long time to relocate to a place that is strange and new.

And I keep asking the question that has no suitable answer: Why would God allow someone so vital to so many other lives to be taken? 

It’s a question that gets rephrased and asked in numerous ways. We don’t understand tragedies. We cringe at the appearance of heartache, not just in our lives but also the lives of others. 

It’s convenient to theologize the pain with the unhelpful statement, “Who can understand the ways of God?” That’s about as useful as burlap toilet paper! (Sorry for the visual!)

There’s also a tendency to philosophize the wounds by talking about the side effects of a world that is highly developed and complex. Once again, that does not help. 

But we’re a society of answers, people that believe any question has a valid solution. We struggle with the idea that some questions don’t have agreeable answers.

My life is littered with unanswerable “whys”. Why did my mom have to suffer with Parkinson’s in the last few years of her life, a form of the disease that caused her to lose the functioning of her arms and legs, and effected her ability to speak?

Why did my friend and mentor, Ben Dickerson, have a heart attack and pass away at the age of 65 when he had no apparent signs of heart problems? That question still haunts me 11 years later.

Why did a gunman open fire in an El Paso shopping mall yesterday, killing 20 people? 

Why do bad things happen to good people? 

There is an unsettledness in my spirit this morning as I consider the numbing grief that my friend is experiencing. Two days ago the family of seven moved boxes into their new home, and now life has become uncertain and grey.

The lack of answers means I can’t let it go. It tumbles over and over again in my thoughts. Perhaps that’s part of the unsatisfying answer. My sense of caring about the pain in another is an indication of the sacredness of relationships, the importance of coming alongside those who are wounded.

It’s not THE answer, but at least it begins to lead me down the path to a hope-filled understanding.

Missing Mom Three Years Now!

September 2, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         September 2, 2016


Today is the third anniversary of my mom’s passing. Three years since she slipped from the incredible care of my dad and sister and marched into Glory.

Her death was hardly a shock. In fact, we had prayed that it would come sooner than later. The Parkinson’s had taken a tremendous toll on her body. Long before her death she has lost the functioning of her arms and legs. More devastating than that, however, was the lost of speech. My mom was always the verbal one. She would begin a scolding or an opinion with an introduction like, “Buddy, let me tell you something!”, and then proceed to tell you three or four “somethings.” Even though there were many times when we wished…silently, if you will…that she would be quiet, the loss of her voice was a lonely stretch for our family on the journey of grief.

My mom’s voice defined her! She had that Eastern Kentucky accent that was just a bit north of Jed Clampett and the other Beverly Hillbillies. When she visited us in Michigan one time and had a woman compliment her on her accent she was a bit insulted by the idea that she talked a little different than others of the area.

“That lady said I had an accent! I don’t have an accent!” We tried not to laugh outwardly, but inwardly our spirits were shedding tears of laughter.

My dad has always been the one who has thought about what he was going to say. Mom just put it out there! Often her words brought direction for someone who was drifting in the streams of uncertainty. Someone grieving a loss was helped along the way by her words and actions. My best friends Mike and Dave were brought under her wing like two additional sons. Even though they had solid family systems, she gave them a bit more guidance, offered food to them, and told them that they were doing well.

When she stopped talking it was frustrating and humiliating to her, and painful for us as a family. What do you do when the person laying there in that bed is not the person you’ve known all your life? When I would call on Sunday evening and talk to Dad he would place the phone receiver next to Mom’s ear for brief times of conversation with her. I would do the best that I could, but she had always been the one who guided our conversations. I was like a sheep without the shepherd.

Three years ago I got the call that she was gone, and I rejoiced. Now each time I go back home to see my dad and sister we take a day to travel an hour and a half to the cemetery where she, as well as the rest of my relatives, is buried. I feel close to her as I stand beside her grave. I can hear her voice and I replay some of the memories as I stand there.

Towncraft underwear and socks every Christmas!

Sitting beside her in church.

Seeing her do her crossword puzzles.

Making me write a sentence 500 times that I would not do whatever sin I had committed again, with her goal of improving my handwriting. It didn’t work!

Seeing her head bob all over the place as she would fall asleep in car rides of more than thirty minutes.

Feasting on amazing meals!

I have been extremely blessed to have had her as my mother, and I miss her greatly!

The Graying of the Matter

April 12, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W. April 12, 2012

There is no easy way to growing older. We can talk about getting wiser, but the arthritis often dulls our sense of sharpness. We can talk about maturity, but the increase in the number of pill bottles in our medicine cabinet seems to go with it. We can talk about the glory days of retirement, but the “getting re-tired” every day is a footnote to that page of our life.
And then there is the struggle associated with seeing your parents in the winter of their lives. I’m back in Ohio for a couple of weeks visiting my mom and dad. My mom spent the past five months in a full care center, until my Dad decided he was going to bring her back home and have home health care nurses come each day to provide six to eight hours of care. He and my sister are filling in the gaps. It’s costly, and has its hard moments, but Dad seems to be much happier that his soul mate is back with him at home.
My mom has a form of Parkinson’s that significantly reduces her ability to communicate and to comprehend. This morning she asked me where I stayed last night. I told her the guest bedroom, and she responded “Where’s that at?”
But at other times she seems to mostly understand what is going on!
It is a tough part of many tough elements in the aging process. She is partially with it and partially not with it. Each question…each conversation…each facial expression…carries with it the question…”Is she aware or not aware?”
My mom still gives me “the look”, the look that makes me search back over what I’ve said like a kid who has just unknowingly spilled the beans about a transgression he thought would never have to be revealed. But now “the look” is filled with confusion and disconnection.
In many ways it would be easier if Mom was totally not there or totally there. There would be no guessing and uncertainty. Each moment would be pre-defined.
Her “graying” brings pauses in the conversation. I’m asking myself “Did she understand? Is she searching for a response?”
I noticed during my last visit in December that a couple of the nurses erroneously thought that she had a hearing problem. My mom’s hearing is 20/20! I know that’s a vision calculation, but that’s the best way I can let you know that she hears everything…even when you’re whispering. With the nurses her lack of giving a timely answer was simply due to her trying to connect the dots in her mind.
While I’m here I’m sure that I will have some good, but brief, glimpses of conversation with her, but also some awkward pauses. The awkward pauses will bring me back to my childhood moments when it was best to not say anything and just listen.
And I’ll treasure the moments…the grayness…the uncertainty!