I know a lot about sacrifice. When my mother was 44, and I was 4, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The doctor told her she wouldn’t be functioning much longer; she told my father to leave her and take me with him. We shouldn’t have to deal with that, right?
He stayed by her side, we both did. And she did get worse, though not as quickly as she had anticipated. It was a slow progression, and over the years she stopped driving, then walking by herself. My dad took early retirement, at first just to help and then eventually to fully take care of her.
He took her to the mall to practice walking, one of her hands on the upstairs railing to steady herself. They walked the neighborhood as often as possible, my dad letting my mom walk pushing her wheelchair if she felt up to it. Almost every day, they went out to lunch, my father helping her from the car to the restaurant, sometimes carrying her if she just couldn’t make it.
It got to a point where she spent entire days in her chair, the same one they used to rock me in as a baby. Every day my dad logged her on to the computer when her Parkinson’s chat group met, usually ending up helping her type when she became too stiff. He knew when her favorite television show started and made sure to change the station at just the right time. He woke up in the middle of the night to take her to the bathroom.
My parents’ relationship wasn’t like any other couple I’d seen, but I knew they loved each other. Even when her disease made it hard for her to talk, we knew she was scared during takeoffs when we traveled. My dad always held her hand. She tried her best to smile at him though the disease made her face a frozen mask.
I know a lot about sacrifice, and a lot about love. I believe in “until death do us part”, I’ve seen it happen. My mother passed away last March and my dad was always, as my brother says, in her corner.