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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

In Good Times and In Bad

Terri Reinhart


My oldest son called a week ago with the wonderful news that he and his fiancé were married – last March! We were delighted! We adore his wife and feel that she became a part of our family from the first moment when she arrived in Denver. We weren’t particularly surprised that they were married as they had talked about this possibility with us early in March. Being married solves some logistical issues about things such as health insurance. Planning a wedding was not practical at this time either. They were both finishing their master’s theses.

It’s easy to get married in Colorado now. Just fill in the form at the proper city office, show your ID and pay $10.00 for the marriage license. No Court Justice, minister, or priest is needed. A couple can “solemnize” their own marriage or have someone who is special to them be the person to solemnize their marriage. Personally, I think this is lovely!

It made me think of our wedding. Chris and I were married on May 5, 1979, in a little church in Buffalo Creek, Colorado. It was a very simple wedding and everyone said it was beautiful. I’ll take their word for it. One of my favorite memories was that so much of the wedding itself ended up being wedding gifts from friends. The cake was provided by a friend who loved to bake. My sister made my dress. Another friend made banners to hang in the church. I went to purchase a wedding cross for the top of the cake and the owners of the store, who knew our family well, wrapped it up and gave it to us at no charge. Even our honeymoon was a wedding present! We stayed in a tree house in Deer Creek Canyon that was built by our friend, Fr. Roger Mollison, the man who introduced us and, when we were engaged, laughingly told everyone that we were going to “commit” matrimony. This gift was a mixed blessing, however, as it snowed just three days after our wedding.

We also wrote our own vows. Looking back on them now, I realize that they really weren’t all that different from the traditional vows. We included the classic “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad”, etc. I think that was required.

These are good vows, of course, but somewhat vague. I mean, what constitutes good times or bad times? What kind of sickness are we talking about? Did we realize that we were signing up for things like being thrown up on by small children at all hours of the night? And, of course, Chris didn’t know that that he was signing up to have a wife with Parkinson’s disease. I think if we had to write vows today, I’d add a few things. To be fair and protect the innocent (me), I will make these a bit more generic and add a few suggestions that I’ve received from friends. If you see any resemblance to your own story, it could be you.

Do you take me to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish even when:

~I haven't had much sleep and haven't had the chance to shower for days?

~the house is filled with children's toys, dirty laundry, and a layer of dust that could serve as insullation?

~there is wet, dyed wool hanging in the bathroom shower, making the entire house smell like wet dog and turning the bathtub a lovely shade of purple?

~the house smells like a brewery and sounds like a rumbly tummy because there is homebrew beer fermenting in the dining room?

~the keys are locked in the car and you come all the way across town to the rescue, only to find out that the car window had been open the whole time?

~quality time together means eating at the hospital cafeteria while our child is in surgery, making valentines for our child’s kindergarten class, or watching a Little League baseball game?

~I forget to take my meds and suddenly look like a marionette with an out of control puppeteer? Or can’t get out of bed without help?

~there have been car parts or bicycle parts or plumbing parts on the living room floor for the last two weeks?

~dinner is the “chef’s surprise” and should be labeled “Eat at your own risk.”?

It’s probably good that the vows we make are a bit vague. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to know too much about what would happen or could happen. The one thing that we do know is that when we make those vows, it’s not “all about me” anymore. It’s all about WE. And it’s really not about the easy times. It’s about those times when we stumble and fall. It is when we need our partner to help us up or we need to help our partner up, even when we don’t especially feel like doing it.

Do we still promise to love and cherish each other at those times? Would we still make those vows, knowing now what it is that we’ve signed up for?

I do.