An Ode to one who has Parkinson’s Disease

As I write this, cold April showers pause, as my shaky body wonders who or what I can blame for this mysterious affliction of mine. I will give you a clue. I thought I was starting to become catatonic as I went for my daily walk. Suddenly, I was stuck in place, as my body assumed a taffy-like slowness, as my left foot started dragging.

Maybe this poem by Heather MacTavish better describes those with chronic illnesses, which she refers to as “extraordinair-abilities.”

Sitting Softly in My Soul

By Heather MacTavish

Sitting softly in my soul

Was never my abiding goal

I leap and I flash and I celebrate

There’s later on to be sedate.

But softness is partner in all that is me

Providing the net of serenity.

Just below the shell of protection

Live the fears. The fear of rejection.

The fear of not being enough inside.

The fear of my judgment, the fear of my pride.

But softness encloses with perfect care

Providing the welcome, the understood yes.

Heather MacTavish formed New Rhythms Foundation in 1998 to bring rhythmic programs to persons diagnosed with chronic, degenerative, and developmental disabilities (which she refers to as “extraordinair-abilities”). Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1995, Heather is skilled in group dynamics and individual human behavior. She combines creativity, science and art with spirit, acceptance and humor.

She presents a comprehensive resource guide and training manual illustrating the influences that music, movement, actions and attitudes can have on biophysical, social and emotional levels. She conducts classes and courses at conferences and universities around the world. Her first book, Creating New Rhythms with Old Songs, is an invaluable musical resource when creating “drum-story-songs.”

I tried to come up with a way to describe how a person with Parkinson’s disease feels. I wonder if Don Mc Lean’s song Vincent might begin to tell what’s happening with them:

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,

how you suffered for your sanity,

how you tried to make us see.

We would not listen. No one ever does. Perhaps, no one ever will.

I dedicate my dream for a cure to you, my agitated friend, honoring your secret driving ambition. We both know there’s later on to be sedate. There’s later on to be sedate. But for now I want to salute your small victories, when you leap and flash and celebrate.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix for Siouxland, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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