Family of Muslim women paint and restore family photo, holding up the broken pieces.

My Father, Khader: Telling People and Keeping Dignity

There are many aspects of being the daughter of someone with Parkinson’s disease that are tough. Mostly manageable with enough help and the right attitude, but there is one part that just won’t get any easier.

My father, being a strong Indian man who takes no interest in being told what to do, does not quite understand that his illness has affected his decision-making skills. He no longer can make sound judgment calls resulting in more than one poor decision.

But, and this is not to paint a sexist image of my father, we as women cannot persuade him once he has made up his mind. Thus, we resort to working around him. What does this mean you may ask?

Keeping up with my father's projects

We are learning as we go and there is only so much we can see in the future. As my father loses more control of his surroundings and of his family, he seems to get more scared and thus more challenged.

He wants to remodel the house, he wants to take a loan out against the house, he wants to fix the eternally damned Honda Accord minivan and the list goes on. He will never stop trying to do things.

What we do to put a stop to these notions is to inform the people he is speaking with. We must pull aside the contractor he is talking to and tell him to hit the road jack, there’s nothing here for you. We tell the bank no loans are to be taken out anywhere, not without the power of attorney paperwork. We leave the car one because really, it keeps him distracted.

We create roadblocks

More and more we work around him and create roadblocks instead of actually reasoning with him. Mainly because there is no reasoning with him. For him, that would be taking control, and then there would be simply fighting to no end. We’d go in circles and what’s more, how would taking total control of his life away from him leave him feeling?

Every time I get frustrated with him for making life so terribly inconvenient, I think to myself - 1. I am an asshole and 2. If I were in his position, what would I do? The truth is, I don’t know the answer to that question. I hope I never have to answer it.

Keeping his dignity

Working around him and reasoning with people in the community does result in one not so great part and that is keeping his dignity. My mother had the unfortunate responsibility of telling friends and family members that well, he’s not doing too great all around, particularly mentally. So if they did see him blow up or they saw him making a poor financial decision, they would know it’s not because he’s weird, but because he is sick. She told people and naturally, they feel bad for him.

When he falls at a family function, or he trips in front of people at the mosque, these are the moments that take away his dignity, his respect, and are replaced with pity. Maintaining his dignity, the ruse that he is still a strong and healthy man that has control over his world, this is the hardest part.

No easy answers

For him to see how people see him in their eyes, only fuels his unhappiness as to why his family is taking over his life. Sometimes, I want to yell, “That’s ridiculously sexist and makes no logical sense!! We should just take matters into our hands and take control!!!”

But that’s not the answer either. It’s either let him run our family and everything he and my mother have worked for into the ground or take over and strip him of his dignity.


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