Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
“We are rooting for you; don’t disappoint us.” This was my parents’ email response to the news that I have to have additional tests done before my doctor is comfortable certifying me as cancer-free. Though their words may sound harsh, I know my parents mean them in the best possible way. After all, they have always been my most vocal cheerleaders.
Raised to believe in the natural order of things, my parents cling to the belief that parents are not supposed to outlive their children, and they will do everything in their power to keep this sacred pact. I know this because this is not the first time my parents have had to deal with the news that I have a serious medical condition. The first was 18 years ago when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. While I feel guilty about the emotional toll my illnesses have taken on my parents, we all know this is nobody’s fault.
The need to help me win my medical battles drove my Dad to proclaim himself president of the southeast Florida chapter of my fan club. He takes great pride in telling new members that I am “a half-assed doctor,” a title he lovingly bestowed on me in recognition of the hundreds of hours I have put into learning about Parkinson’s. If anyone can put a positive spin on an expression that means “incompetent,” my Dad can.
Looking back over the decades, I have come to understand that parenthood is easiest when our children are babies, and their unhappiness can be soothed with a story or a handful of cereal. As they grow older we often don’t have the answers or the tools to make them feel better, leaving us feeling powerless and sad. It is Catch-22, “We are only as happy as our least happy child. We think that if they are happy, it’s because we raised them well; if they’re not, it’s because we did something wrong.”