Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski
“The idea that no one is perfect is a view most commonly held by people with no grandchildren” – nationally syndicated columnist Doug Larson
By Sheryl Jedlinski
Those of us who have grandchildren know that ours are the “coolest.” Ask me about my granddaughter, and I will pull out my smart phone loaded with a hundred or so photos and video clips attesting to just how special she is, and how special she makes me feel.
My relationship with Parker Sage is a gift, as I was 19 years into my journey with Parkinson’s disease when she was born. Although still independent, I worried about how “hands-on” a grandmother I could be, and for how long. Would I be around to see my granddaughter grow up? I wondered. Would I be able to watch her enjoy extracurricular activities? Most of all, I wanted to create for Parker the loving childhood memories I have of my relationship with my own grandmother.
A year old this weekend, Parker’s smile lights up a room as if she owns it. Her laughter is infectious, and her joy contagious. Everywhere she goes she makes friends. Hearing the first few notes of, “If you’re happy and you know it,” stops her in her tracks and starts her clapping and dancing.
Seeing the world through Parker’s eyes makes everything look new and exciting, opening a window to a more hopeful future than I previously envisioned. I look into my granddaughter’s eyes and wonder: Who will she become? What will she be like? What kind of world will she live in? I only wish that she be happy, healthy, and enjoy a productive, satisfying life.
Before she was born, I agonized over what I wanted Parker to call me. A year later, she still has no name for me, and I am okay with that … as long as she continues to light up, squeal with joy, and reach for me to pick her up when she sees me coming around a corner or appearing on her mom’s Facetime phone screen. Parker made me a grandmother, whether she uses the title or not. The experience has changed my life for the better, giving me a sense of purpose and usefulness that we all crave.
Our life is defined not by the challenges that come our way, but by how we handle them. Accepting that we are all in this together, is the first step in carving out a “new normal” extended family relationship that supports everyone’s needs. My husband, Tony, and I have made grandparenting a team effort. The three of us go for walks, play games, sing songs, and share stories and books… just like any other grandparents and grandchildren.
How quickly this last year has zoomed by. What a joy it has been watching Parker become her own person. She is the best of each of her parents and in turn, has brought out the best in them. Already she has left her mark on her little corner of the world, making it a better place than it was when she arrived. This is all any of us can hope to do.
Happy first birthday to my one and only, Parker Sage.