The idea of writing about fighting a dread disease did not particularly grab me. Still I agreed to look into it when, a dear friend, the closest thing I have to a sister, called to ask me about doing so. She forwarded Bob Patin’s email saying people had been after his wife, Lori, to write about “her fight with Parkinson’s,” but Lori wasn’t up to the task because of her disease. I didn’t think I wanted to dedicate a year of my life to her story, except that something about Bob’s parting sally intrigued me:
It isn’t really a story of Parkinson’s but a story of fighting anything thrown at folks and the kind of attitude, help and processes that all combine to deal with any challenge. Parkinson’s is just the platform for the story.
At Bob’s suggestion, we met in Normal, Illinois, a neutral location halfway between St. Louis where I live and Chicago where the Patins live. I thought, Here is someone who understands the importance of signifiers.
That day the things the Patins said inspired and intrigued me. In the future, their words would change my life.
Lori told me: “I am a lucky person within an unlucky situation.” Lucky? to be struck by this cruel fate? She went on to say, “The best thing is how it has pulled my family together.” The best thing? There are other good things about Parkinson’s?
Bob said, “This disease is a teacher, and both Lori and I have surely struggled with some of the lessons, but we have learned the hard ones.” A disease teaches you? He also told me that Parkinson’s “is a precious gift that I could not have anticipated.” A gift? this terrible debilitating disease?
How deeply they care for each other. Lori’s Lesson’s is not just her story, but it is their story. Lori said, on learning she had PD, “My first reaction was: I was scared for Bob.” Not for herself? Bob doesn’t just say how much he loves her, he washes and blow-dries her hair every morning. Lucky lady.
The book would be much more than their personal struggles. Lori said, “I have a feeling God wants me to do something with this.” Bob said he believed their story has “An intent, a purpose, it’s meant to be. We are being shaped by something more powerful than we know.”
I am so blessed to know the Patins and to tell their story, especially meeting them just as I was faced with my own terrible, medical challenge.