I grew up in a little country town in Western Australia. I loved and adored my Mum, but my hero worship was reserved for my father.
Dad was everything that I wanted to be.
Dad ran a little supermarket on the main street of York. He was the best country supermarket operator that ever was. He worked hard. He was good to people, customers and staff. He knew how to make money and how to make you laugh. He was a cheeky villain who always had a sparkle in his blue eyes and a smile on his face.
My father is a simple man. He’s never been much for reading and writing. He finished school at age 13, but he taught me most of what I know about life. My childhood memories are of a staunchly proud, confident and strong man.
Mum and Dad did well from the business. They sold it when Dad was 50 and gave working away. Since then Dad has gone through some changes. He suffered his first epileptic fit soon after retirement and he and Mum and the various health professionals have battled to deal with that affliction over the last 25 years. By and large they’ve managed to control epilepsy and it’s symptoms, but the condition and it’s treatments took a big toll on my Father.
He’s aged much faster than Mum. The confident and strong man is gone.
Last week my Father was officially diagnosed as having parkinson’s disease.
Mum’s devastated. She understands that there is no cure and that Dad’s condition will never improve…it’ll just get steadily worse.
The diagnosis was no great surprise to me. It’s seemed pretty obvious to me for years that Dad was a parkinsons sufferer, but the health experts, up until now were coming up with different conclusions.
Getting old is a mongrel. It’s inevitable, but so unfair. I guess I should feel blessed to still have both my parents alive and kicking, but I don’t want them to get old. I don’t want them to change. I miss the strong and confident man who helped me to grow up. I know Mum misses him too. She’s taken care of him in whatever way he would let her in the last 20 years and that role is set to expand in the future.
He’s still a lot of fun. The cheeky grin is still there. He still makes me laugh.
I made a number of calls to Parkinsons groups here in Canberra and nationally to familiarise myself with the disease and it’s ramifications. We’ve got a thriving Parko’s group here in Canberra. I spoke briefly to Michael Dwyer who is the President of Parkinsons ACT and he soon let me know that you can live a very full life despite this annoying condition. They run support meetings a coffee club and even dance clubs and a painting group.
If you want to find out more about Parkinson’s ACT you can call 6290 1984 or email