The Question?

“The Question Is Not What You Look At, But What You See.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Sometime progression for Parkinson’s {and other neurological diseases} is marked by how people see you {or your loved one} on a particular day.

We are asked  “How’s Don doing ? Last time I saw him he was struggling.”

or

We hear: “Hey, How’s Don? I saw him and he looked pretty good.”

Those living with Parkinson’s know, it can fluctuate minute by minute or hour by hour.

I find it necessary to not see our family or Don’s path through others eyes but how we want to remember our journey.

Summer 2015

Summer 2015 – Don,  Hadley (7) and  Libby Horton (12)

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Through A Different Window

~ Bless those who see life through a different window

and those who understand their view ~

Be who you want your children to be

Independence Day 2015

Children Of Parkinson’s

Never Lower Your Expectations Of Kindness

There are elements of Parkinson’s Disease that are rarely discussed. When outsiders think of the disease, their mind often flashes first to the always-lovable Michael J Fox and his great demeanor and positive outlook. Optimistically, we prescribe to his Always Looking Up mentality, but in reality, there is a whispered side of Parkinson’s that those in the community live every day.

Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s second ranking neurological disorder, yet other than the textbook tremor, many people are unfamiliar with the symptoms. It would be a great case study to examine how people who are unaware of the disease can treat a person who has the disease. When we go out as a family, we notice these people. We feel the stares, hear the loss of patience, and see the rolling of the eyes. We can imagine what is whispered. We’ve heard questions asked if he is drunk. We listen to the obligatory, “I’m sorry” once we disclose the diagnosis to new acquaintances. We are aware of both friends and strangers relief, thankful it’s not them.

As parents, we witness our children’s response as they look down to the ground, awkwardly wishing the moment would pass. Children are best at observation. They quietly read body language, posture and tone. They understand differences. They are forever processing. They are honest in their assessments and when they relay things back there is often no filter.

Our youngest daughter innocently asked, “Why do they think dads unseen” and in a recent journal entry she wrote
” People tret Dad like hes invisible and think he is werd. Like when people see him they make mad and bad faces😟”

“People tret Dad like hes invisible and think he is werd. Like when people see him they make mad and bad faces☹”

It pains my heart that at seven she understands that people glance over her dad, but yet she can’t process it. Here’s the man who she loves and thinks is amazing, but at the same time, struggles with others recognizing that there is something very different or strange about him. He has had Parkinson’s her whole life, and she knows that his disease at times can be limiting and hard. She is innately kind and patient, but each instance questioning why others find this difficult to do. Through her eyes I see the disconnect.

I don’t have an answer for her.

I could tell her ~ It’s ignorance. 
I could tell her ~ They don’t know better.
I could tell her ~ She was wrong and excuse away the behavior.
I could tell her ~ They are just having a bad day.
I could tell her ~ It doesn’t matter.

But we won’t

It (he) does matter.

Ignorance is not an excuse.

In 2015, regardless of what someones ailment is, they should know better.

She does understand and their behavior is wrong. What she is seeing is real – insensitive, unkind, inexcusable, thoughtless people are among us. She watches her father fight everyday to do things he once took for granted, from small things such as buttoning a shirt and writing to much larger things like walking, talking and keeping his balance steady. She sees him. He is not invisible. His love is as real as his challenges. He’s not “werd” (weird). He’s just her dad.

It’s a shame to say that people’s perceptions of us can affect our daily lives; that negativity and neglect could shape our children. Our goal is to make sure our girls never lower their expectations of how they should be treated and vice versa. Circumstance has taught my girls strong lessons, and I am grateful for the virtues that they now hold.

Treat others how you wish to be treated yourself.
No one is irrelevant.
Kindness matters.

F. E. A. R.

F. E. A. R. 

Fear has two meanings –

Forget Everything And Run

OR

Face Everything And Rise

The Choice is yours.

For All Our Loved Ones With Parkinson’s  ~ We Chose To Rise

DSC_0168

Braving the fight for 9 solid years and counting! Don, Libby And Hadley Horton Spring 2015.

3 Cheers For A Cure!

Don and I are celebrating our 21st year of marriage.

Not a typo.

Really, it’s been 21 years.

We’ve never been a couple to exchange extravagant gifts.

A few years back I received one gift that I will always cherish.

You see, my mom never throws anything away.  Not a hoarder but a complete sentimentalist.  Unbeknownst to me she provided Don with a piece of my past that she thought he “might like”.  A throw back Thursday treasure.  A cheerleading picture (pre photoshop days!).

Always Your Cheerleader

Always Your Cheerleader

 

Don, in turn, took my brace faced picture, purchased a side by side frame and inserted his playing days football picture.

 

Don - Wittenburg Tiger Days

Don – Wittenburg Tiger Days

Completely sweet.

Attached a note that read …….

We are quite the pair. Meant to be. Always by my side. Love – Don

Couldn’t agree more. I can’t find my pom poms or do a herkie any longer but I am cheering him (and many others)  on now, in more ways than one.

B E A T  P A R K I N S O N ‘ S ! 

Until there is a cure we will be the change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I participated in a radio show for the National Parkinson’s Foundation South Palm Beach Chapter.  In closing the host, Jeff Dowd, asked – “What is one piece of advise you would want listeners to take away from our time today?”

My answer was simple.

DSC_0057

Because you are important…. I listen.

I said  and truly believe – “I hope everyone would be open to listen.  Listen to your loved ones. Hear what they are saying verbally but especially non. It’s often what goes unsaid that stays in our hearts longer.”

You can only affect change by listening.  Change in perception, change in environment, change for the cause and most importantly change for their quality of life until there is a cure.

I’ve seen a glance down when something is difficult, feelings of I use to be able to do this bubbling up.

We hear comments by others about his progression while he is standing next to us, as if his hearing is impaired and he isn’t able to understand what is being said about him.

We notice looks and hear sighs when someone doesn’t have patience with his slower pace, as if to say you don’t matter.

We listen as he has a conversation with someone and the person he’s speaking with nods and laughs, as if they understood what he was saying but we know, they have no idea.

All things we take in and process. All things attempting to create defeat. Defeat of a soul. Defeat of spirit. Defeat of your accomplishments. Defeat of human life.

You can’t let that happen because the disease takes away enough.

We have accepted that we can’t completely win our battle against Parkinson’s, only keep it at bay for as long as possible, but, we can defeat ignorance.

So listen, and when you see a shift in you loved ones attitude, rise to the occasion and when you hear ignorance, challenge it.

 

We are in this together!

We are in this together!

Until there is a cure we will be the change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day Via Instagram

Instagram is one of those social media platforms that some would say we opened the door too early and allowed our 11-year-old to partake in.  Our concession to this method of communication comes with as many rules and regulations as Obamacare.  One of the caveats would of course be, to monitor her account.  Most of her posts are harmless selfies.

This Sunday when we checked we saw this.

Always be my no 1!

 

An image of her and her dad at a cotillion father – daughter dance earlier in the year.

The picture is precious to me for many reasons

but now, add her comments (minus the spelling errors)

and it is truly priceless!

Libby is at the age when we, as her parents, can be embarrassing for a host of reasons. However, when your dad is not like all the other dads, physically, it seems to stand out.  We are simply, more aware that his Parkinson’s Disease may add to her discomfort or questions from friends.

So, it was refreshing to see her proclaim “no madder” what, he’s her #1 man – for all to know.

 

Until there is a cure we will be the change.

Oh What A Night!

We traveled as a family for the first time to the wonderful city of Seattle.  To attend the American Parkinson’s Disease Association Magic Of Hope Gala. Don was being honored.   What an incredible time for us to come together and share our story, journey and hopes for the future.

The Magic of Hope Gala 2014 - American Parkinsons Association

The Magic of Hope Gala American Parkinson’s Association

We were lucky to meet many warriors of the disease who are valiantly fighting as well. We were happy to help raise awareness and money for programs and research that we believe will help those afflicted.
Copyright 2014 Garet Munger

Copyright 2014 Garet Munger

We were humbled that Russell Wilson would take a moment to help support our cause by speaking and donating.

Attached is a clip from his tribute to Don.

I know Don was honored to hear Russell’s words but honestly, upon reflection we both agreed that he had given a gift to the Parkinson’s community and our family – especially, our girls.

As the disease progresses and the father they once knew is harder and harder to see, they will have this small token from Russell.

Helping them remember what a difference Don made in his career as a coach and human being.

Once again, thank you Russell.
Until there is a cure we will be the change.

 

Stamp And Send Love

On Facebook,  I saw a gentle reminder of how one of the smallest Christmas traditions could be a gift and help not only brighten someones day but spark change.

Scan 34

Horton Christmas Card 2008

From the mom of a close friend of mine asking for something so simple.

It read:

“My daughter’s picture of the boys has me thinking of our annual “Breakfast with Santa” at North Ridge & how much Donnie enjoyed them. There is little joy now, so we do everything we can to spark a moment of clarity or a memory. Cards sometimes help! His address: Donnie Stancil, Room 320A, Crabtree Valley Rehab Center, 3830 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh 27612.

Her husband, Donnie, has Parkinson’s and additional health challenges. This is the first Christmas they won’t celebrate together in “their” home.

Not sure if it was the brutal honest comment of – there’s little joy now – or the HOPE that something we could do could help change a day, a minute or a connection but I applaud her plea and will happily oblige.

Hope that all will take a moment during this busy season to send love via a stamped card, especially to families that need a little extra tenderness!

Horton Christmas Card 2009

Horton Christmas Card 2009

From all the Horton’s much love and hope this holiday!

 

 

Until there is a cure we will be the change.

 

Caregiving is a Continuum

I came across an interview this morning that Cokie Roberts granted Today’s Caregiver. It struck a chord and caused introspection.  Here is the portion I have read and re-read.

Question:  You’ve said that caregiving is a continuum.  Can you explain what you mean by that?

Answer: “That is the message I always try to give young women (I do this at women’s college graduations all the time): first of all, don’t think that there is a period of your life when you’re a caregiver…When your children are small.  When your parents are old, whatever it is.  What women do is take care.  That’s what we do.  We do a lot of other stuff, too, but what our mission on this earth is, as far as I’m concerned (and I get a lot of argument on it, but that’s tough) is taking care.  Sometimes, it is taking care of the planet or the library or the cultural center or whatever it is.  But usually, even if that is what a woman’s focus is, she’s also taking care of human beings.  And it’s not necessarily just of your own children when they’re small or when they’re having problems along the way or of your own parents.” – Cokie Roberts

I appreciate visualizing a different view. It is one that I embrace and will reiterate.

Our mission on this earth is taking care.

The root of caregiving is compassion.  Our two compassionate children.

The root of caregiving is compassionate people, at every age.

You can read more of Cokie Roberts writings in We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters

http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Our-Mothers-Daughters/dp/B000GG4LX0