About ten years ago, my wife Randi was doing one of her very favorite things. She was shopping at Nordstrom with her best friend, Debbie. As Randi was putting on a pair of jeans in the dressing room, Debbie noted that Randi’s hands were shaking so much that she could not zip up the jeans. Debbie said, “You must really be excited about those jeans!” and Randi replied, “Debbie, I am scared, I cannot control this shaking.”
That was our very first sign that something was wrong with Randi. Randi had been in banking her entire career and had risen to the level of vice president. Coworkers began asking Randi if her neck hurt because she looked so stiff. She was also having problems with taking notes in meetings. We went to several neurologists and finally got the diagnosis: Parkinson’s disease. Randi was granted a short term medical leave of eight weeks. The doctor suggested that Randi stay as active as she possibly could and that she should take a class on something that interested her. Randi decided to take an introductory class in watercolor painting. Randi had studied art for a while in college, but had not touched a brush in over thirty years. This is where Randi’s story takes a wonderful turn.
The class opened Randi up to a talent that she never knew existed. She discovered a natural ability in watercolor painting! The micrographia symptom of Parkinson’s (tiny handwriting) became an asset in creating minute detail in her paintings. She has since created many wonderful paintings including portraits and landscapes of her native Norway. Randi particularly enjoys painting portraits of dogs (we have two, ourselves). She has painted portraits of friends’ pets that have literally brought the owners to tears of emotion.
The saying that when one door closes another door opens has been very true in Randi’s case and can be true for you as well. Randi’s secret is that she has stayed sensitive to what activities she can enjoy while living with Parkinson’s disease. Watercolor painting and two Mah Jongg leagues keep her mentally stimulated and socially active. She also still enjoys riding along with me in the golf cart, offering much needed advice, and trying a pitch or a putt now and then!
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