“People always ask me where I'm from,” he announced. “I tell them I'm from outer Mongolia, but actually I'm from Minnesota.”
Chris and I were out for a walk one day. Okay, Chris was walking and I was on my scooter. It was the scooter that made the man pull up next to us on his bicycle and chat for awhile. He had two brothers, he told us, both with Parkinson's disease, and they were living with him. He was wondering if either of his brothers might be able to use a scooter.
When he found out I also had Parkinson's, he began asking me all sorts of questions and we compared medications, dosages, symptoms, side effects, and more. We learned we have the same neurologist. He was dealing with much more than I have as both of his brothers were at the advanced stage of the disease. They had feeding tubes. Sometimes they had hallucinations. I got the feeling his daily bicycle ride was how he kept sane.
Over the next weeks, we saw him now and then. He always stopped to chat. We never even exchanged names. I thought about him a lot. I'm not sure how old he is, but my guess would be around 70. Being the sole caregiver to two people with advanced Parkinson's couldn't be easy, even if they were his brothers.
As we chatted, we learned a little more about him. His accent was intriguing, which is when he told us he was from Minnesota. “We grew up on a farm. Our family is Norwegian. That's why I talk like this.” We also learned that one of his brothers had been married; he and his other brother were bachelors.
On the way home, Chris looked thoughtful. Finally, he said, “They really exist. I thought it was just a myth.”
“Norwegian bachelor farmers. I thought they were just a Garrison Keillor myth, but they really do exist. We've met a REAL Norwegian bachelor farmer!”
(Cue the Powdermilk Biscuit song)
We didn't see him for awhile and wondered if he was okay. Then, a couple of days ago, he was out riding his bike again. He told us he'd had back surgery and then one of his brothers had passed away. He's still taking care of his other brother. The surgery was obviously successful. He didn't take much time to visit before he was off riding again.
It's always good to see our Norwegian bachelor farmer. He's one of the many quiet caregiver heroes who makes such a difference in the lives of people with Parkinson's disease. It's a privilege to know him.