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vignettes of the life of a father with parkinson's passed away

Remembering My Dad Who Had Parkinson's Disease

My father, who had Parkinson’s disease (PD), passed away at age 88 in October of 2022. I did the eulogy at his memorial service. I thought by sharing with you my father’s story that you would appreciate that he lived life to the fullest despite having PD.

I read a portion of the poem called "The Dash" by Linda Ellis at my father’s memorial service. The poem tells how you should spend your time between your birth date and your end date. In other words, the "dash" between the dates listed on a tombstone. For that dash represents all the time we spend alive on earth.

My dad lived the "dash"

He spent his adult life helping other people through his work as a dentist and volunteering his time. He worked for 45 years as a dentist which included 2 years serving on a naval base in South Carolina.

Many people came to my dad’s memorial and remembered him as the gentlest dentist. We all should be so lucky as his former patients, eh?! This did include me in fact!

He also helped set up a program here in our town of Naperville, Illinois to support the teens. In the early 70s, kids would hang out in the downtown area. My father and 2 other community leaders started a program called Naperville Community Outreach, now known as 360 Youth Services. It helps teens navigate life’s challenges.

My dad showed love to so many people including my mother Judy. My parents were married for 63 years. Mom fondly remembers many travels with my dad. This included 10 mission trips to Slovakia to help rebuild a church and a school that closed in time of Communism.

He was a huge part of my life

He was a great father to me and my older brother. He was always there for us even with his busy life. He demonstrated to us both that we work hard for what you have. He modeled how to be respectful and kind to others.

He showed us and my 3 children how to have fun too! My dad often joked around and provided much laughter in our life.

Later years together

My father had prostate cancer in his 60s followed by surgery. He eventually required a permanent catheter due to scarring of his urinary system from the surgery. Dad retired from dentistry at age 70. Soon after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

He went on to enjoy his retirement for several years. He stayed active traveling with my mom and doing his favorite hobby of photography. He really didn’t slow down until he was well into his 80s. During this period, physical therapy helped give him energy to keep going.

Over the last few years, I had the honor to share more time with dad as dementia started to take hold of his mind. We spent time baking cookies and taking lots of photos strolling outdoors. It forced me to slow down my own life which was okay. Mom and I were his care partners along with the help from in-home caregivers. I admit that it wasn’t fun to see Dad decline toward his end of life. He spent his last few months in a nursing home.

However, I wouldn’t change it any other way. Dad showed me how to live "the dash." His legacy will go on in my life as I work with youth as a substitute teacher and volunteer in a teen drop-in center. I also get to share stories like this being part of ParkinsonDisease.net. I hope you take time to see how you are spending your own dash.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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