My Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2015. I’m really thankful that we’ve had a few years to prepare for the worst of it. For the first couple of years, it was mostly just a flat affect, a softening of his voice, and a shuffling of his steps. He worked with doctors and physical therapists to slow the progression of the disease. But it’s gotten harder with each passing year.
In the last couple of months, he’s been feeling more confused and having a harder time expressing his thoughts. We’re still not sure how much of it is his Parkinson’s and how much of it is the medication that’s supposed to be treating his Parkinson’s. So we’re in a regular, ongoing conversation with his neurologist. Still, even without any dramatic changes to his treatment plan, he has good days and bad days. I’m grateful for what we’ve got.
Recently, though, it seems like we’ve hit an especially hard transition point. The point where it might be wise for my Dad to avoid driving.
Even for the last year or two, Dad has basically limited himself to the two-mile strip between his house on the northwest side of Kent and the business district on the eastern side of Stow. This strip includes Riverwood Community Chapel, Discount Drug Mart, Handel’s Ice Cream Shop, and his Physical Therapist’s office. So even this limited range has been useful.
The other day, however, he was driving the standard strip, and the car started producing some sort of dinging sound. He couldn’t figure out what was causing the sound. Then, the combination of his general confusion and his difficulty expressing himself made the situation even more challenging when he tried to seek help at the Drug Mart and at his PT’s office. It seems like one of the PTs was eventually able to help with the car sound. But afterwards, the therapist posed Dad the question that everybody would probably rather avoid: “Has anyone told you that it might not be a good idea for you to be driving?”
We don’t know if it’s permanent. But for at least the time being, Dad and Mom agree that it’s probably best for Dad to avoid driving until they can seek further medical counsel.
In the meantime, we’ve developed a solution that could potentially be advantageous both to my parents — and to our family just a mile up the road in Kent. I had previously planted the idea of us eventually buying my Dad’s little yellow Sonic when the time comes for them to sell it (and maybe it will still come to that). For now, however, we’ve decided that the yellow car come to live at our place. This provides us with a fourth vehicle for our four-driver household. But it also allows us to be on “stand-by” to take Dad wherever he might need to go (when Mom’s not able to take him). Like a creative twist on the ol’ yellow cab!
Our newest driver, Olivia, loves zipping around in the little yellow Sonic. She’s also glad to provide transportation when my Dad needs it. So I’m thankful for the way that our current generational shift allows us to adapt to each other’s needs. I’m praying that we’ll be able to keep looking out for each other in different ways, as circumstances dictate. But we need lots of continued grace and prayer! Some days I feel really frazzled. Other days, I lean more towards gratitude. Working together, with God’s help, we’re finding our way around.