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
Although a man of average size, my Dad’s presence in my life has always been that of a giant.
He was my most vocal cheerleader, president of my fan club, and my most ardent defender. He had magical powers that during my teenage years could transform my tears into laughter with his signature “pruney off” look.
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 20 years ago, he joined the fight to find a cure. He and my Mom became my groupies, taking to the road to attend my presentations. He stood in hotel lobbies and steered people my way, promising that my presentation was the best, and making sure they knew I was his daughter. In recognition of the extraordinary hours I logged plowing through medical information, my Dad proclaimed me “a half-assed doctor.” Only he could turn a phrase like that into a compliment.He was the king of one-line “gems.”
My Dad encouraged me to follow my passion, imparting to me his belief that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to do. When necessary, he provided a little push… as he did to move me to finish writing my book about my journey with Parkinson’s. For the last year of his life he reminded me daily that he was 90 years old and was not going to live forever. If I wanted him to see this book published before he died, I would have to write faster. It worked.
From an early age, my Dad taught me to care about the larger world beyond me, to stand up for what I believe in, and to give a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. We agreed on most issues, except for the Vietnam War and actress Jane Fonda’s role in it. Being on opposing sides brought me to tears almost every day, until we agreed to disagree in the name of having “rapport.”
In recent years, we used video calling, article sharing, and on-line bridge games to erase the miles between us. My Dad always told me, we were so connected that if I was cut, he would bleed.
My first and last emails of the day were usually from my Dad. They included links to major news stories prefaced by our signature “what sayeth thou?” We were “fair and balanced” before the phrase became a joke.
The depth and longevity of my relationship with my Dad is a rarity by any standards. This is precisely why his passing last week leaves a giant-sized hole in my life. Still, the sadness is a small price to pay for having enjoyed such a unique relationship spanning 65 years.
I am forever Daddy’s little girl.