A celebration of the passage of time on Dad’s 70th birthday

How Parkinson's has become part of the fabric of my father's life

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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When the clock struck midnight on March 13, Dad turned into a pumpkin, sprouting vines for ears and orange skin as a protective barrier from the world. That day completed his seventh full decade on the planet, and I imagine it gave him insight into the number of days he’s experienced. His prince could come at any moment, lifting him off his feet and taking him to happily ever after.

Although I’ve only been lucky enough to share 31 of Dad’s 70 years, I know he lived through many colorful chapters before my birth. There were his early years, when he shared a house with nine siblings on a lake, passing the time on boats and in the glistening water. Then there were his teenage years, filled with mischief and football. By the time he reached adulthood, he was an explorer, like me, driven by curiosity and often hitchhiking across the country or hopping on transoceanic ships for months at a time.

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What defines us

The celebration of Dad’s life comes onto the widescreen this week, alluding to the reach of his years. And Parkinson’s has become a part of that reach in recent years. A decade ago, the first neurologist Dad saw told him he believed my dad had Parkinson’s disease. Another doctor echoed those sentiments shortly after, solidifying this new chain that my dad would have to wear. He’s now had a Parkinson’s diagnosis for one-seventh of his years. And he usually wears it well.

Time is a curious thing — a construct of our own minds, by many accounts. But how we choose to spend our time defines us. Our actions throughout time give insight into our character, illuminating the essence of who we are.

For Dad, Parkinson’s has become a piece of his time, forcing him to slow down over the past few years. How he chooses to spend his time has changed. I think it’s because of his shifting intentions that we’ve managed to keep him on the planet for so long. He didn’t always focus so much on his lifestyle and diet. He used to stay active by chasing his kids around the yard. Now, he goes to athletic classes.

When the clock struck midnight on March 13, I couldn’t help but put Dad’s life into perspective. I know that it’s impossible to entirely understand someone without walking in their shoes, but he must’ve done a few things right to make it to 70. And I’m grateful for all of the time we’ve spent together. I hope I’m lucky enough to get a lot more of it!

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


William Palmer avatar

William Palmer

Beautifully written, Mary Beth! Thank you.


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