Friday, December 6, 2013


I try to keep Sundays sacred.  Sundays are meant to be a day of rest, but it is sometimes difficult.  There is too much to get done. I committed to mentor a group of boys as they go through their faith journey towards confirmation. I started when they were in sixth grade and they are now in seventh. I promised that I would stay with them until they are done, and I will.  I forgo Bears games and other things to go every Sunday at noon to be with them. They are smart and filled with intelligent questions about certain people believe certain things.  I especially like that when we are done with our lessons that we go outside and play wall ball together.  Even more than that I like the way that despite the fact that they all go to different schools and did not know each other before we started, they all take care of each other.  They call themselves the “A Team.”

 Since I began my journey with Parkinson’s I have worked out of my house and served as a stay-at-home Dad.  Some days I am working on things and I find it annoying that I have to go out and drive one of my kids somewhere or pick them up.  I hate having to go to appointments, do errands or chores that distract me from what I am doing, what I am focused on.  Doors and stoves need fixing; lawns need to be raked. Christmas lights must be hung, and cleaning must be done. If I had my way, I sometimes think I would never leave the house, though I do like being out and about.  There are so many things I would like to accomplish but I feel that I’m too busy to get them all done...Just too busy.

Sometimes I get angry or resentful about these things.  Sometimes I feel like no one appreciates the effort. Sometimes I think people don’t understand that even the simplest things can be a harder struggle for me than they used to be. Sometimes I feel very sorry for myself. Sometimes I lash out and then feel bad about it later, when I realize I am being childish.

A couple of nights ago, it was raining.  My car wouldn’t work. I got people where they needed to go but missed a meeting and I got frustrated. I thought; I am not making the difference I want to. I talked a little bit with my middle son, Matthew, before he went to bed. I always try to talk to him every night before he rests up in preparation for work or school the next day. He is a very busy guy these days. Matthew is a smart boy and a great poet but he doesn’t always talk much or share a lot. Sometimes I feel like I need a crowbar to get a word out of him.  My wife often jokes that Matthew will be married and have three kids before we will ever know about it.  

I was very tired and fell asleep on one of the couches we keep in the garage studio.  When I woke up in the morning, Matthew was gone for the day, but I found a note from him. The note said this:

Puzzles with pieces missing
Sometimes get thrown away…

I want you to be here

I need you

I am here for you too.”

For the rest of the day I thought about how busy I am but also about how lucky I am.  I have a family that loves me and takes care of me. I have good doctors that I like. I am indulged to do my writing and my art.  I work on projects and have conversations that do make an impact on people’s lives.

I have a friend, Mark, who is a pastor at our church.  He is fond of using the expression, “There is a big difference between the things you have to do, and the things you get to do.”  I first heard him say it when a bunch of us were working on a Celebration Clinic to try to help those in our community that are struggling.

Thinking about it, there is a lot I get to do. I get to talk to and laugh with my daughter in the car when I drive her to or from practice; I get to have long rambling discussions with my oldest son, Ben, when he randomly calls from his home in the city; I get to visit with my neighbors when they suddenly come up the driveway for a quick interrupting visit;  I get to see my brothers and sisters at family parties, and most of all I get to see my wife every evening and do whatever I can for her when she gets home from work, because I appreciate what she does. I get the time I need to be alone with my thoughts and my creativity.  I get to do a lot.

There are a lot of things around here that I have to be fixed or get done, but it is much better to think about them as things I get to do and can do, than it is to think of them as things I have to do.  Being really busy doesn’t seem so bad at all when you think about it that way.