By Ellie Beatty

This week at 110 Fitness, my father-in-law, Bud, and I removed his winter jacket, patiently mastered the challenge of putting on his wraps, and secured the safety belt around his waist.  Then I said “Bud, I’m going to straighten you out.” and realigned his wheelchair with the group. 


Bud replied something I could not hear.  “What?” I asked, putting my ear close to his mouth. 


Bud repeated “Even if you tried for years, I doubt you’d have success.”   


That really made me laugh, not only because of the humor itself, but also because this is the Bud we always have known. This is the Bud whose favorite pie was “Whichever one Jean has made,” and who was always ready with a self-effacing quip or play on words.   


Bud’s comment also made me think of the destructive nature of Parkinson’s disease, that it slowly masks personality by causing the afflicted one to put all of his or her energy into the basics of living:  swallowing, walking, talking, eating.   


Despite his challenges, the original Bud is watching for chances to emerge from that broken-down body, reminding us that he is still the Bud we have always known and loved.  This is a good reminder for us able-bodied people to give all Parkinson’s sufferers the respect they deserve, to remember that under that mask of symptoms is a uniquely gifted, courageous person, battling to accomplish the monumental tasks of daily living.