Should My Dad, Who Has Parkinson’s, Travel Abroad?
My dad and I sat quietly in the living room one early evening. The daily hustle and bustle had died down, and we were enjoying the peace of simply existing in each other’s presence.
When I’m home, I like to mull over existential questions. I want to know what motivates my dad to keep fighting Parkinson’s disease with all of his might.
Does he want to live to see his first grandchildren? If he could do life over again, would he do anything differently? Does he regret anything? Is he happy with the choices he’s made? Is there anything he still hopes to accomplish?
Between TV commercials, I asked him a question that had been weighing on my mind.
“Dad, if you had the opportunity to participate in a program like Make-A-Wish, what would you do?” I barely thought about the words as they left my mouth.
Dad looked pensive for a few moments. His face was stoic, but his lips were pursed in thought.
“I’d go back to my second home,” he said. Longing crossed his face as he described the contents of his heart.
Dad spent several years in Austria, where he studied music and explored the richness of life. I know what it’s like to better relate to a foreign culture than your own. It doesn’t surprise me that he never stopped missing Austria.
“What if I take you?” I asked. As an adult, I’ve become almost as enthusiastic of a traveler as my dad. I find airports comforting. Public transit is similar enough in most countries across the world. And it’s never particularly difficult for me to navigate hostels or hotels.
Travel with Parkinson’s might require some accommodations for my dad, but I think it’s still possible. We could go for a week, or even a month.
“My traveling days are over,” Dad said, just as quickly as I dreamed up the idea of going.
His response wasn’t surprising, but it did sadden me. I’m sure that travel with Parkinson’s would be substantially more complicated than without it. But what if he had a support network? What if we made plans and adjustments that would keep him comfortable, even if he was thousands of miles away in Europe?
I decided that I’d keep working on him.
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