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    Watching a Loved One Fight for Their Life

    loved ones

    I always knew that I was extremely lucky to grow up with my mom’s parents close, both in proximity and emotionally. Nana and Pops, my grandparents, mean absolutely everything to me. I am so thankful for every minute I’ve had with them and hope for many more, but like everyone else, they are getting older.

    As people get older, they tend to move slower, need more assistance than they did to speak louder or help them with more around the house. That is to be expected. They looked after us when we were young, so we need to look after them as they get older.

    no one is ever quite prepared to watch someone you love dearly deteriorate, both physically and mentally, due to a diagnosis.

    Every Wednesday of my childhood, Pops would pick up me and my brother to take us on an adventure. He would take us to get a snack, usually from wherever he had a coupon for, and to an activity. For years, on every single Wednesday, we went to the museum, the zoo, the riverwalk, or the movies. When we got to middle school, the weekly Wednesday fun stopped and everyone noticed something was different about Pops. Our funny, kind, car-obsessed Pops was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and we were all terrified. What does this mean for him? What does this mean for us as a family? How is he going to stay positive even though he can’t do everything he wants?

    What is Parkinson’s Disease?

    Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by the progressive loss of nerves in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain. This eventually causes involuntary tremors, slow movements, rigid muscles, balance issues, and memory problems. The diagnosis meant that some things would simply have to change, whether he wanted them to or not. He would have to learn how to compromise and ask for help. For instance, my grandparents take pride in their yard. He cannot move around to take care of it, so he uses the lawn mower as transportation. That way he can pick up the pine cones and tend to the flowers. I think the hardest part for him is understanding that no matter how much he wants to do something independently, sometimes his body just isn’t able to.

    As the symptoms progress, his life is altered more and more. He has trouble staying awake, following conversations, and he is losing control of his body. Pops was once a man capable of serving in the Air Force, and now he can’t button his own shirt. But that’s how life goes sometimes. He has been persistent, we’ve been patient, and that’s all we can do.

    I’m proud of my grandpa, because he never gives up. He is fighting with everything he has left. I’m proud of my family for supporting him through anything and everything. Hold on to every moment you have. Support them and love them, even when it’s frustrating. Most importantly, never let them lose their hope.