Why Helping Kirk Manage his Parkinson’s was so Important

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I adore my paternal grandfather. If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know that. The world called him Kirk because his first name was too hard for most people to pronounce. I get the honor of calling him granddaddy and buddy as his only grandchild.

Kirk bravely thrived with Parkinson’s my whole life with him. He took medication for Parkinson’s, and it seemed like his case was fairly mild as a young child. As I got older I realized his case was milder than most, but he still had to fight valiantly. He did. I learned how to thrive with my CP by watching him do so with Parkinson’s. He led by example. That was his way as a man of few words. He’d much rather show than tell. We visited he and grandma often because we lived close. He and I developed a routine for hanging out together.

After work or if he came home at lunch and we were there: he and I would plop in front of the TV. Him in his recliner and me beside him in my chair between he and grandma’s recliners. Every time we would spend time together, in this way, his arm would shake. It’s called a resting tremor. I asked if it hurt. He would always tell me no. I instinctively knew he was probably protecting me by downplaying his discomfort if not pain.

One day, on a whim, I reached over and put my hand on his arm. The tremor stopped. I moved my hand and it started back. I reached for his hand, laced my fingers through his, and put my arm on top of his completely. The result? Significantly less tremors while we had contact. He smiled. I smiled back. From that day forward: what I just described became our default position. The reduction in tremors only happened with me. It was probably because no one else knew our trick. I like to think it’s because we had such an amazing connection. It feels more special that way from one condition warrior to another.

Helping him feel better was a gift he gave me. By helping him feel better I learned not to focus on his condition or mine. I learned to focus on ways to diminish its impact and still live a full life. Helping him are memories I cherish. I love my granddaddy so very much and miss his physical presence every day. I know he’s my angel, now, and never far away, however.

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