Grandfather's story

Grandfather's story

Olpilots World

Thursday, June 27, 2013

parkinson's family story

Many years ago I knew a man with a booming voice, a larger than life, to me anyway persona. He was my grandfather, my mothers dad, who she always said I was just like. A compliment I have always relished. I didn't get to spend the time with him I would have liked but I did get to see things, and in hindsight are all to familiar. He passed away in 1973, I was 21 at the time in the Air Force a continent away and didn't get to say good bye but there are things I saw then that I see now everytime I look in the mirror.I remember back when I was young this man ate his peas of a knife, something that was evidently quite popular among certain people, of german decent I think, but he did this. He had a booming voice I remember him yelling at my cousin that he and my grandmother raised as their own. The only cousin I I have. that knew him that is older than me. I saw a steady decline in him in the very short time I can recall from those years. He was a carpenter, back when you sawed wood by hand, you plannd boards level by hand. It took physical strenght and knowledge to build, From my early memories to my last was about 15 years and in that time I saw a man go from larger than life to a whispering, shuffling, shaking shell of his former self. No ome ever said Parkinson's, not really sure if they even knew it then. They were very poor, he may have been a good carpenter, but in the early 60's there was not much to help a fellow who had something going wrong, that even today takes more intuistion than skill to diagnose.It is so hard to imagine what it must have been like to for no understandable reason just deteriorate from a useful human to a guy who just needed to sleep. In the later year that is what I remember most is his always sleeping and the chair that no one else could sit in because it was where he spent most of his time. How difficult it must have been for my grandmother to become a caregiver and have no idea whar was happening to them. I never got a chance to talk to my mother or anyone else in the family about this because they are all gone now. Being the oldest of the family left, there is no one to ask what happened, what they knew, anything.I have developed a very powerful love of woodworking, I have no idea why, never did before, I have also developed Parkinson's.I just went to the basement to get somethings I had been working on on, and as I shuffled off to the steps it hit me like a ton of bricks, I move like he did, I talk like he did, my mother was right I am just like him. I've known for a couple of years what wa goiung on, but I am lucky, there are treatments I haave available to me he never dreamed of. How terrible to have this and nothing anyone could do. Levedopa came into being a few years before he passed away, my guess is being poor kept him from finding any relief, and it may have been to late anyway. Somethings haven't changed so much in the years that followed though in this country. If you are poor you are still pretty much on your own, drugs that can help and make a difference are, if you don't have good insurance are still out of reach for many. I get for example my Azilect for free now, $15.00 a month till I hit my max deductible, for some it's $900.00 per month.I don't know if any of this is hereditary ot not but I know that caring and compassion are generational and we are a generration that seems to not care anymore .Is it so hard to remember our grandparents and the hell they went through before SSA and Medicare, why do we seem hell bent on going back there? I for one remember a time when we visited my grandparents and ate canned ww2 surlpus meat and surplus cheese. Is that where we want to go again I pray not.stephen welch at 10:19 PMShare 

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6 Replies

  • You're still fortunate to have his memory as your North Star and you are honoring that memory and man every day. peace

  • It is pleasant to talk and think about our old relatives who are no longer here with us.

    I often ponder on mine, and often see them looking back at me when I look in a mirror (facial similarities etc) When a person/relative is not there, At times you miss them more than ever.

    And often realise that when they were with you One did not have that same love and longing for them as when they are gone.

    The ones I still have now I treasure beyond anything.

  • Hi olpilot

    Firstly, we would all do a lot better, if we were to stop and remember our forebears and what they had to endure, willingly, to raise us, often ungrateful, children and grandchildren. We have so much entertainment at our fingertips that we hardly have time to work. They, on the other hand, were so busy working that they did not have time for entertainment. I'll lay my head on a block that they were generally more healthy than we are! I wonder why that is? Could it be that they walked a lot more than we do? Could it be that they climbed the stairs, while we use the elevator? Could it be that, because they were generally poorer than we are today, that they were a lot slimmer than we generally are? I would not swap my life for theirs, but there is a lot we can learn about the healthier side of their lives, which we would be well advised to adopt.


  • thanks for your story. it's good to remember not so long ago. to have to care for aging relatives at home was not easy but at least we were humane . i'm pondering this as my mom 1000 miles away is 93 and just had a stroke and I'm 73 with PD and trying to figure out how to get there and be with her.

  • That's not just a heartfelt story. It's a teaching story as well, one worth more than all the figures and arguments. We can see so clearly how and why we need to help all Americans people with state-of-the-art healthcare, the "poor" most of all. PD can be demoralizing but it doesn't have to be that way.

    What would it take for you to go see your Mom? What would be the steps and what kind of help and support might you need? Asking for and seeking the financial means to make this visit is not out of being "poor" it's what humans need to do for one another. To say our goodbyes to our parents.

  • Olpilot

    I look at the photo of that big man in his favourite chair and think about your story. It is a sad story that asks the questions we all want answers to, why is it Parkinsons people are still waiting for better treatment and better understanding of our condition after all these years. But your story also speaks of your love of your grandfather too and how you admire him. Thankyou for sharing it.

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