Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wedding - A Walk, A Dance, and Parkinson’s

Seven years ago I had to think very hard about an uncertain future, the possibilities of what I would be able to physically do and what I might not able to do. “You have Parkinson’s Mr. Younts.”  I heard those words as well as words that could have been easily replaced with others. My neurologist could have said, “I am sorry Mr. Younts, but I don’t know if you will be able to walk your daughter down the aisle the day of her wedding day.  Oh….also, you won’t be able to dance the father and daughter dance.” That is what Parkinson’s is, the “I don’t know what your future is and what precious moments it could steal from you” kind of disease.

My day came, as it does in many fathers’ lives when they walk their daughters down the aisle and give her to the man of her dreams. I had the honor and privilege to walk my baby girl down the aisle with something close to my heart that I had in my jacket pocket.  She was stunning and I was proud that my little girl grew up to be the beautiful young woman she is. Holding my arm and walking slowly down the path of paved stones together, tears began to flow as she saw her Prince Charming and his joyful tears ran down his face as his princess approached. I stood there proudly with a smile on my face. “Who gives this woman away?”  “Her mother and I.” I lifted her veil and gave my little girl a kiss, and then turned to my new son-in-law, shook his hand, and hugged him. I sat with my beautiful wife, held her hand, and thanked God that I had this moment.

The reception followed. My speech welcoming our guests and congratulating the newlyweds was a challenge thanks to an off moment with my medication. I told my wife I needed to stall. She said, “You can do this. I will stand there with you.” That’s what my wife does in all things  --  she stands with me. I roughed through it, but I did it.

Time for the father and daughter dance came. Marissa told me it would be special. I wish there were a word that could describe how truly special it really was to me.  The ukulele began to play and the beautiful voice of the young woman began to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  “ I heard you singing that one time when I was home Daddy.” I do sing that song as many people facing adversity do -- an anthem of hope. What a wonderful thing for a daughter to do for her father!  

My dream did come true. The one thing Parkinson’s can’t take away is my family and the love we have for each other. 

I am Pat Younts and I Move to Live.          

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Gift of Hope

Tomorrow is the most wonderful gift any of us have. Each day we wake up and in front of us is a box. Its beauty can’t be described and its contents are priceless. We look inside and we see endless possibilities, a chance to start anew, to love and laugh, to create, to dream, and a chance to make a difference in the world. When we take all those wonderful things out, we decide which ones to choose to make our days special. We look and see one more gift – hope, the hope of another tomorrow. When life gives you adversity and the word incurable is used, it can take away that precious gift.

I am so very grateful to all of you for your kind hearts and the generosity and support you have given me and my family and my foundation in the fight against Parkinson’s disease. Thank you for the gift of hope and a new tomorrow.   

Please make tomorrow special. Use the word love in place of the word hate.  Look for the ways we are the same, instead of the ways we are different. Look a stranger in the eyes and smile. That simple act of kindness could give someone a reason to hope and because of that decide to have a tomorrow.

Blessings and Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sam Fox, a Parkinson’s Odyssey

The bond between mother and child is unique and powerful. Mothers bring us into the world, they pick us up when we fall, and wipe the tears away when we cry. We always know everything will be okay because our mothers told us it would be. Their hugs are the armor that protects us. Their smile is the light in our day.

What would you do for your mother? What extreme would you go to? Would you climb the highest peaks or journey thousands of miles to help her if she needed you? I met someone who is doing just that. Sam Fox (no relation to Michael J. Fox) is an extreme athlete whose mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than 10 years ago. Sam who works for the Fox Foundation has begun his journey, Tour de Fox, which would be described in Greek literature as an epic odyssey. He will ride his bike 14,000 miles to each and every state in the U.S. and climb the highest peak in that state with a goal to raise 1 million dollars for Parkinson’s disease research to help find a cure.

My wife and I attended the Team Fox Young Professionals event this past Monday in Washington, DC, and met this dynamic young man. Standing well over 6 feet tall with long blond hair and beard, he looked every bit the extreme athlete. The most dynamic thing about Sam was how personable and kind he was to everyone. He is a rare person who pushes his body’s ability to move to its limits so people with Parkinson’s will never be limited in how their bodies can move. Sam is a true champion to our cause giving us hope that one day there will be a cure.
It was wonderful to meet so many people from the Michael J. Fox Foundation who work so hard to help all of us who are fighting Parkinson’s.

Leading up to this event, I was inspired by a photo of Sam and loved how it captured the movement of an athlete running.  I created my version of a Warhol print of this photo and presented it to him.

No piece of art or word I write could do justice to this incredible feat Sam has undertaken. 

I am Pat Younts and I Move to Live.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Parkinson's - A Poem

You see me a bent shaking form that sways, unmoving and rigid. 
My thoughts uncertain from the fog that clouds the day.
You cannot see my smile or my joy, my frown or my rage.
You cannot see it because of the silent features, a mask, now my face.
You see me and you stare. The reflection in your eyes paints the picture,
And you think that life sometimes is not fair.

I am not a landscape of autumn turned to fall, a tree that has no leaves;
Whose branches are broken, alone, no forest to be seen.
What you cannot see is what is inside of me,
A will that is evergreen.
I know that spring is coming, so for now I must stand tall.
I know the wind will bend me.  I know my leaves will fall.
My will never broken, for winter will one day thaw.

What you could not see inside of me is a great and beautiful tree,
And all the trees around me, all the trees like me.
Standing together, a forest now you see.
That picture that you painted, that picture is not me. 

I am Pat Younts, and I Move to Live.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Window of Opportunity, Living with the Reality of Parkinson’s and the Threat of Dementia

How do you handle adversity? What do you do when everything seems to be stacked against you? Many times you will hear there is no playbook on how to handle a situation especially when that happens to be Parkinson’s and cognitive issues. Window of Opportunity, Living with the Reality of Parkinson’s and the Threat of Dementia by Kirk W. Hall has done just that. This book is inspiring and direct, a playbook for families, spouses, and caregivers who are dealing with Parkinson’s and cognitive issues. As Kirk faced these challenges, he took it upon himself to share his story and give insight on how to cope with these difficult circumstances. I highly recommend this easy and quick read.  As someone who is battling Parkinson’s myself, I found that Kirk and I shared many of the same life philosophies and approaches to disease management. I found myself reading parts of this highly informative book out loud to my wife. 

Thanks for writing this valuable resource and sharing your story.

Kirk has also authored, Carson & His Shaky Paws Grampa and Carina & Her Care Partner Gramma.

I am Pat Younts and I Move to Live.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do Dogs Play Ball in Heaven?

12 years ago our family got a wonderful blessing. We heard through a friend of ours that there were two dogs that had been abandoned in a shopping cart in front of the Pet Smart. Of course our kids wanted to go over to see them. I had an appointment with a client at the gym. We all went to the Pet Smart and there she was, a 3 month old black lab. Dad, can we keep her? My wife, what do you want to do? My answer, I need to go to the gym. I will let you guys figure it out. I remember my client asking me how my day was. I said we just got a dog. Really? he said. Well, I know when I get home, there will be a dog sitting there. I left it up to my wife and kids.  

As a young dog, Duchess was …well…that perfect combination of adorable and just plain bad. Weren’t there two steaks on the counter? Honey, where did that pecan pie go from Costco? This is the third keyboard in the last 5 weeks. The joy of a puppy. Naps with the kids and playing ball were her two most favorite things. Ask anyone who came over to the house and got the privilege of being handed a ball by her, then had to keep throwing that ball over and over and over. The cats and Duchess always seemed to get along. Truthfully I think she thought she was a cat for the first year, picking up many of the same wonderful habits without that entitled persona (all of you who also have cats know what I’m talking about).

Duchess picked up a friend along the way, Dexter, her high energy best friend. Dexter would love to steal her ball and took the greatest pleasure from playing keep away. She would whine at us as if to say tell the brat to give it to me. A well-paced swat by her paw usually took care of the problem.

It was not Duchess who was the lucky one that we found her. It was us who had the joy of her absolute love and affection. We were the lucky ones. 

A few hours ago our Duchess took her last breath. She judged no one and loved everyone. I know many say that our animal friends don’t go to heaven. I don’t think it could be heaven without them. I know you have a ball in your mouth, wagging your tail and someone just figured out dogs don’t get tired in heaven. Love you Dutch.     

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Parkinson's and Art on the iPad

Thomas Jefferson, drawn by Pat Younts

I can lose myself for several hours drawing on my iPad. Many wonderful apps out there allow me the creativity to do art and graphics despite the effects of Parkinson’s. I wonder what the great masters would have done if they had an iPad or tablet and a stylus? What would their great works of art have looked like, or would they have spent too much time surfing the web for funny cat videos?
Mona Lisa, drawn by Pat Younts


Would Leonardo da Vinci have just snapped a quick photo of the Mona Lisa instead of going for the brush or by some theories (that it was in fact da Vinci’s self-portrait as a woman) reverse the camera and take a selfie and use an app to put some long hair and a dress on. Who knows? 

Napoleon Bonaparte, drawn b Pat Younts

What I do know is that it is a wonderful outlet  for me and safer than those power tools I enjoy using around the house. So as a tribute, I have recreated these works of art to look like the paintings of the artists despite shaking hands. If I can do it fellow parkies, so can you. Don’t let this disease kill your creativity. Use the tools at your disposal, find that outlet, and claim that personal victory.

I am Pat Younts and I move to live.