Ah I know some with Parkinson's....

Kingdom of Parkinson’s. 3. Grandmother.

In the meantime, I am still here, on the wrong side of that gate. Sadly browsing through those thousands of photo’s on my phone. It’s all coming back to me. Awww that was on the beach…oh and that one…making grape juice from our own grapes. Did I realise that I was happy at the time? As in ‘simply happy’?

 Hm. I could take some pictures of where I am now, sitting on cold stone on the wrong side of that impossible gate.

Why would I? All I can see are the cobblestones under my feet. People who look at the ground are not usually the happiest bunnies on earth. Well, I am not exactly full of the joys of spring myself. I look down at my shoes gloomily. Now that’s funny – I may have entered foreign territory, but I am still wearing my own sneakers. Which means … I can still get up and go.

You’ve got to be brave

Remember my grandmother who told me to be brave? To embark upon your journey with courage, even if your daughter dies before she is born….even if you end up on the other side of a gate (which you didn’t even know existed)? She had to wear orthopaedic shoes. The right one had a sole that was almost 10 cm thicker than the left. And she needed a cane to walk. That was part of who she was, a tiny woman, one leg 10cm shorter than the other and that cane. It wasn’t until much later that I realised the cane and the orthopaedic shoes were not all all part of who she was at all. I’d made it part of her identity, because otherwise it would have had no choice but to be upset about it. My grandmother had been brave for a long time. Especially after she joined the WWII Dutch Resistance. Even more so when her husband paid the highest price for our freedom. And later, after the war, when her youngest son died. She bravely kept going, wearing those horrible orthopaedic shoes. I take another look at my own sneakers.

Surely the least I can do is try and take a few brave steps in those shoes?


Read the next chapter: Family

Read my guest blog at the Michael J. Fox Foundation: It’s so not you! 

“And she was right. She casually hit the nail on the head as we chatted by the meat counter in the supermarket. That’s the thing with: illness, tragedy, loss…it’s so not YOU. Neither is a Parkinson’s diagnosis at 46. It’s just not how you envisaged your future. Fair enough, it’s not really anyone, my friend continued, but you…?  Read more

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