When You’re Living with Parkinson’s Disease, Kindness Matters

When You’re Living with Parkinson’s Disease, Kindness Matters

“You will never know what someone is dealing with behind closed doors. No matter how happy someone looks, how loud their laugh is, how big their smile is, there can still be a level of hurt that is indescribable. So be kind. Even when others are not, choose to be kind.” —Author unknown, via 3am Thoughts Facebook page

What was my mindset?

The weather was typical of a New York winter’s day: cold, damp, and dreary. My spirits were equally dark and depressing. Parkinson’s disease (PD) has a way of aging people before their time. As I walked into the grocery store, I was ruminating on how much my bones ached and how fatigued I felt.

What happened?

When I went to purchase my items, I asked for my 10 percent senior discount — there are some benefits to getting old. The young woman behind the counter looked me in the eye and said in a sincere tone that she thought I was much younger than 65. I could tell she meant to pay me a compliment and was not going to ask me to prove my age with my driver’s license. I was so touched by her kind words that I broke down in tears.

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What changed?

This woman’s random act of kindness blew me away. My mood transformed from melancholy to elated in seconds. She didn’t know that I was in the midst of a major pity party thinking about how old I felt. She was surprised by my tears and didn’t realize how welcome her words were to me when I was feeling miserable.

Why am I telling you this?

The point of my sharing this brief, transformative moment of my PD journey is that kindness does matter. The simplest actions can make a huge difference to someone who may be going through a difficult time. It has been weeks since this act of kindness. However, I still smile at the thought of that simple gesture from a stranger. This was an unsolicited, kind act from someone who didn’t know how unhappy I was or how much I needed some positive feedback.

Kindness matters.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

At the age of 62, I started writing to inspire conversation about mental illness and suicide after my life partner, Steve Tarpinian, took his own life in 2015. Seven months after Steve passed, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Now, in addition to Steve’s story, I am telling my own.
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At the age of 62, I started writing to inspire conversation about mental illness and suicide after my life partner, Steve Tarpinian, took his own life in 2015. Seven months after Steve passed, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Now, in addition to Steve’s story, I am telling my own.

8 comments

  1. James --(Jim) Mourlas says:

    Dear Jean,

    Thank you for that lovely story–

    I just want to say that it works both ways. I lost my wife to PK-well–they say it was Lewy Body Disease–but they are both pretty close–and, after 55 years, I felt so sad–so gypped–
    So I started looking for things that I could do to make others feel better–little things–like walking a lady’s grocery cart back to the store–or getting a can off the top shelf for some little person–or letting a person trying to make a left turn–make it–and it made me feel so much better–
    Now I volunteer with PK patients in Rock Steady Boxing twice a week–and I think they love me and I love them–I’m starting to come
    around–but –yes–kindness helps both parties–what was that old saying I remember from Sunday school?–“It is better to give than receive”–well–maybe not better but certainly pretty good.

    Stay strong my dear–and thank you for your message

    • Jean Mellano says:

      Thank you James, kindness truly matters.. I am so sorry about your wife, you must have given her great comfort in her final days.

      I have another post that should come out in a few weeks that talks about more kindness I received from complete strangers. It is key to pay it forward. It does come back to you..

  2. Jim Quirk says:

    Jean Mellano is one of the best person I know. Jeanie came into our office for a job interview and as she walk by our room(there were 4 of us in that room) we rushed out and as our manager was closing the door we all gave a thumbs up. We were right!!
    Jeanie was one of the boys and she fitted in. A smart women and we had a great time at work. I miss those days and nights. I look forward to our next lunch date

  3. Carla Byrnes says:

    Hello Jean,

    I loved your commentary on Kindness. My husband has PD (6 yrs s inc diagnosis). I so strongly believe in acts of kindness, whether random and to a stranger, or to those who are close to us, that I’ve asked to have the following on my gravestone: “She did some kindess along the way.” As a Temple president, almost every message I’ve given has included encouraging the practicing “chesed” – “DOING acts of kindess.”

    • Jean Mellano says:

      Thank you Carla for your comment. The world can be so cruel sometimes,it is so nice to see acts of kindness when you least expect it and usually when you need it the most. You did a kindness for me today by responding to my article and I do appreciate it so much 🙂

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