My grandfather’s birthday was this past Sunday. If not for the complications of Parkinson’s, he would have turned 88.
Like nearly everyone else, Grampa’s path to his diagnosis took time and more than a couple wrong turns. His motor symptoms started with a dragging foot and slowness in his arm on the same side. He insisted he was fine, just getting slower with age. As his symptoms progressed, the doctors examining him on Cape Cod raised concerns of a stroke or ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.
It wasn’t until he saw a specialist in Boston that his Parkinson’s was diagnosed. Unfortunately the disease, and Grampa’s other health challenges, progressed rapidly. He passed in 2002.
I have fond memories of Grampa, especially his love of country and baseball. Having been born, raised, lived and passed in Massachusetts, he was an avid Red Sox fan. I’m quite sure that is where I get my passion for the team. Like all loyal Sox fans, he would curse their ineptitude and ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory during the time of the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ and have his hope spring eternal on Opening Day of each new season.
When the Red Sox broke their curse in 2004, I remember wishing Grampa could have been here to see it. But as the tear of joy in their World Series victory came to my eye, I knew he was celebrating with Ted Williams and all the rest of the eternal Red Sox Nation somewhere. It must have been a heck of a party!
Grampa, here’s to you and all of our loved ones who have passed due to Parkinson’s. May their memories continue to give us joy in our lives.