Parkinsons is a cruel disease. Hands that don’t work as they should; no longer writing or giving a warm greeting. A mouth that can only mumble where it once spoke forth friendship and warmth. Eyes that once sparkled with humour now won’t shut or open as they should. And most cruelly, medicine that creates its own world in the imagination of the sufferer.
I returned today from visiting an elderly uncle who has Parkinsons. He is a warm, friendly and beautiful human being who was the family letter writer, in the past, keeping a family separated by continents connected through his written words.
He recognised me when I entered his room at the nursing home, which pleased me. But soon he was mumbling about a fantasy world in English and Dutch. The amazing thing is that he has not spoken Dutch on a regular basis for 60 years. Yet that is where his mind takes him back.
I chatted and he mumbled for forty minutes. I read some of Psalm 139 and prayed. Then his eyelids drooped and it was time for me to go.
I felt so helpless and frustrated in the face of such a disease.
Today as I was taking the 2 hour drive home, all I could do was to hand it over to God. God please give comfort. God, please be present in his heart and mind. God give give strength and healing. God please … So the prayer went on.
Parkinsons is one of the more dramatic and tragic manifestations of our human frailty. Cancer, MS and the myriad of other diseases point to the same reality; as much as we try, life on this earth is temporary. Ultimately our humanity crumbles.
Where is God? God is in the promise, that through His son son, there is hope and life beyond the frailty. His desire for us is not Parkinsons or cancer but a wholeness in mind and body, in His presence, for eternity.
Can I understand all that? No, it is beyond my comprehension. Do I believe it? Yes, for me and especially my uncle.