About a week ago, I met one of my neighbors. They travel a lot in their motor home and had just pulled in from a long stretch. Gone all winter to Arizona and for the summer, they were camp hosts over at Crater Lake. So, I wasn’t being ‘un-neighborly’. They are just never there.
I had gone to the mailbox and on the way back my neighbor was standing at the back of his motor home with two other older fellows. They were chit-chatting or as some say, ‘shooting the breeze’.
I had been singing as I walked and brought it down to humming to myself as I approached the threesome and was about to walk by when my neighbor broke the conversation he was having with his two friends in order to tell me to “Lighten up. Things aren’t that bad.”
Oh great. Another one of those people. Now, I have nothing against ‘those’ people. I’m not even sure what I mean by ‘those’ people, except to say, they don’t get it.
Some people measure happiness and joy by the smile across someone’s face. If they’re smiling, they muse be doing great and yet, how many times have you put on a smile for the crowds, meanwhile inside, your world is falling apart? But – it doesn’t work the same in reverse order. If you look down, people assume you are down. They aren’t familiar with the effects of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Many think that PD is simply an illness that makes a person shake and, it does do that. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Did you (anyone unfamiliar with PD) know that Parkinson’s disease can include (but is most certainly not in the least bit limited to):
- loss of smell
- loss of balance
- dry eyes
- lack of muscle control
- severe pain
- stiffness? (— to name just a few symptoms.)
So, when my neighbor from across the street interrupted his friends to make his comment about me putting a smile on my face and added, “Now, isn’t that better?,” I was frustrated because I was happy.
So often we think that unless the other person is smiling, something’s wrong. We assume that something is troubling them. People with PD have a disadvantage in this area – being able to show on the outside, how they feel on the inside. A person with Parkinson’s disease often loses his or her smile, as the facial muscles in a PD patient has caused their smile to tighten up and… disappear. Many people who know nothing about Parkinson’s disease don’t understand that and end up yelling at others to put a smile on their face, if one is missing. If that weren’t enough, they follow it up with, “Now, isn’t that better?”
Being happy doesn’t mean you walk around with a smile plastered on your face. Many people are smiling on the outside whole dying on the inside. The next time you see someone who looks lonely, sad, down – ask them how they’re doing. You might be surprised at their reaction.
Journeying with you,