Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
My long time friend Jo-Ann Golec died yesterday and I never saw it coming. Not even when she called the night before just to check in and say she loved me. That was not atypical behavior; we often did that. What was odd was that when I mentioned looking forward to our upcoming lunch, she said nothing, and I didn’t pursue it. Maybe if I had…
Jo-Ann died of a massive heart attack the next morning. I think she knew it was coming and chose to let it take her. This last year with her husband, John, battling and then succumbing to cancer was particularly difficult for her. Not a day went by that she didn’t miss his enormous presence. Her three children and five grandchildren remained the joy of her life.
Jo-Ann lived with Parkinson’s disease for more than a quarter of her 77 years. Dismissing it as “a nuisance” and “a major inconvenience,” she never let it get the best of her. At “5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’,” Jo-Ann was as mighty as she was diminutive, much like the subject of the movie, Rudy.
One of my first Parkinson’s friends, Jo-Ann taught me to face this disease with courage, grace, and dignity. Whether serving together on the Board of the Midwest Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, or counseling and welcoming newbies into the fold, we immersed ourselves in the Parkinson’s community. Living each day to its fullest, we laughed in the face of our shared challenges and fears and celebrated the smallest of victories. “Off duty,” we spent our time lunching, shopping, and sampling every chocolate dessert we encountered. Jo-Ann will live on forever in the memories I have of her.
There were simple things I had intended to do for Jo-Ann these last few months, but never got around to. Let my regrets be a reminder to us all that none of us is promised tomorrow, not the healthy nor the sick. Live each day as if it were your last. Hug your parents, children, spouse, and friends a little tighter today and make sure to tell them you love them.