In 1994, while crossing in a crosswalk, she was hit by a 5 Ton truck. Doctor's predicted she'd never walk again. She proved them wrong.
"I had amazing support from my family," she told me last night as we sat at a table at a fundraiser for the homeless shelter where I work and for the Parkinson's Disease foundation. "And it really helped that where I was doing physio I was surrounded by young athelete's determined to overcome whatever injury they had sustained. They coached me and cheered me on. I had to walk again if only because those kids were determined I would."
And then, in 2002 she started falling. Several months later the diagnosis was complete. Parkinson's Disease.
The cause? It's believed to have been the accident.
"Doesn't matter what the cause is," she said as we shared a cup of tea together. "The cause doesn't change the fact I have Parkinson's. Nothing can change that fact. I can, however, change how the disease impacts my life and my family. I have to do whatever it takes to ensure the disease doesn't destroy my life sooner than it would if I didn't take the right steps to slow down its progression today."
What an attitude. What an inspiration.
She is a victor.
Life may have served her lemons but she isn't crying in her lemonade.
She is actively participating in her well-being. She is committed to her Be. Do. Have. (Be committed to Do what it takes to Have what I want).
She would like a life devoid of Parkinsons -- but the fact is, that's not happening anytime soon. Rather than bemoan the fact she got it, rather than whine about the unfairness, or fall into the 'why me' boat of self-pity, she is dealing with reality and calmly marching forward, determined to live a full and loving life.
Life is filled with trials. Yet, admidst those trials there are ample opportunities for joy. There are immeasurable moments to experience love.
Fifteenth Century playwright, John Heywood wrote, “If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.”
I don't know how I would deal with Parkinsons. What I do know is that sitting and chatting with this woman last night, and others who have been afflicted with the disease, I am in awe of the power of the human spirit to overcome hardship. I am in awe of the courage this woman displays in the face of adversity. Her husband sat beside her, every so often interjecting a joke, a smile, a word of support. He'd touch her hand, gently carress her shoulder, laughingly commented that "I'm not going there," when she commented on her 'my witchy time' -- when too much of one drug radically changed her behaviour.
She is a tiny woman. Dark hair framing her face. Twinkling brown eyes, a shy smile. She was married at 18 to "Bill", her husband of over 50 years. "My mother had to sign the papers to allow me to be married," she told me. "Back then, you had to be 21 to do it yourself." She smiled wistfully. "How times change." And then she laughed. "No one can predict what happens in life. All you can do is deal with what happens with as much grace as you can muster and know, God will always support you in your journey."
The question is: Are you crying in your lemonade or revelling in your cup running over?