Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Life Stone

When I was first diagnosed with Parkinsons I took some time off from work and went and lied down in my bed for three days. I was thinking that my life was over. I thought to myself this has changed my life so radically I can’t recover from it.

I have a home office in my house, with a single bed, where I usually sleep because I have a tendency to snore a lot and it keeps my wife awake. In my office there are many bookshelves where I store my books, and there are two desks.  One is a blonde trainmaster’s desk that my wife gave me as a birthday present; the other is a black drop-down that my grandfather built by hand. On top of both of them I keep small framed photos and other memorabilia that I have collected over the years.

At the end of the three days that I lied in my bed, my daughter, Meredith, came in and said “Tom, how long are you going to stay in here?” 

For some reason, my daughter has always called me, Tom… not Daddy, or Dad, like my other children do. I don’t really care.  As long as she continues to say “I love you, Tom,” she can call me whatever she wants. 

On that day that she came into my room, she started fiddling with things on the desks and the shelves.  She said, “I think it is time for you to get up.”

I said, “Meredith, it’s not that easy.  There is a lot I have to think through.”

She got angry and said, “No, there’s not! You need to get out of bed.  There are people that need you…we need you!  How can you figure out what you’re supposed to do if you don’t get out of bed?” She picked up something from the shelf, threw it at my head, and then stormed out of the room.

The object thrown was a smooth stone with the word “Life” painted on it.  I remembered when she gave it to me.  She was a little girl who had just come home from vacation bible school. She presented it to me and said, as her teachers had taught her, “Tom, here is your life.  What will you do with it?” I looked at the stone for a minute, thought a bit, and then I got up out of bed and went downstairs to start the next phase of my life.  

To this day that stone never leaves my pocket or my bag, no matter what.  It, like my daughter, is one of my most prized and wonderful treasures.