There are times when I truly think he hates me. But I know inside that really he loves me. It is what I represent to him that he hates. I am the face of the disease to my father. My father has had Parkinson’s Disease (PD) for twenty six years and at eighty-three years old he is nearing the end of his struggle.
I know that it must be difficult for anyone to live with PD but it has to be especially trying for a man like my father. This man has taken such good care of his body. He is still , other than the PD,in tremendous shape. But the ravages of the disease are evident now. The once powerful legs that carried him across so many miles are now atrophied. The arms that used to do fifty push ups with one of his children sitting on his back are still strong but they too are losing their grip on the past. And the mind…oh the mind. The mind is losing its hold on reality and he knows it.
With all this he has been stoic and unyielding in his carriage as a man. That is why he lashes out at me and no one else. I am the reminder that he is sick. I am Parkinson’s to him. I remind him , just by being present , that he can no longer walk. When I turn on the shower I remind him , without saying a word that he can not stand nor does he possess the dexterity to bathe himself. Sitting beside him at the table that he still heads he is reminded that someone has to help him eat. Sitting in his chair watching me pick out the clothes he will wear today reminds the once sharpest dressed man in town that he can no longer dress himself.
That is why every night when I tuck him in bed I remind him of two things.
One is I love you.
Two is I’m sleeping right here next to you.