This is a picture of me and my sister with our grandfather in 1988. His name was Dr. Marvin Arnold Jolson. Everyone called him Marv, or M.A. We called him Poppop.
Marv was an extraordinary man, as average men go. He was an admired professor of business and marketing at the University of Maryland, having received a PhD at age 47. He'd moved from being a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman to a senior vice president at Encyclopaedia Brittanica, and was named the inaugural winner of a lifetime achievement award from the American Marketing Association.
In his personal life, he was an avid golfer, world traveler and Orioles fan. He was also a devoted husband, father and grandfather. When I was small, he would take me for walks and play a game called "Candy Store." The rules were pretty simple: I was the proprietress of a candy store. He was my customer. I'm guessing it was a lesson in entrepreneurship cloaked in play and sugar addiction. He taught me how to drive when I too young to be driving. Poppop was a hero to his grandchildren, children, nieces and nephews.
Parkinson's disease changed him. Once active, simple movements became challenging, then difficult, then almost impossible. I had to tap each of his legs to encourage him to shuffle his feet an inch forward. His brilliant mind was struck by Parkinson's dementia. He couldn't remember things. He was no longer able to play golf, to drive, to teach. A proud, capable man, he was no longer able to care for himself.
Parkinson's took its toll on my family as well. My grandmother was never the same after he got sick, and she was worse after he died in 2001. Parkinson's can rob a person of body and mind, and can exhaust his family.
At present, there's no cure, no way to reverse the progression of symptoms, and no real way to prevent it. Research can help that. And in the meanwhile, advocacy and resources like the Parkinson's Disease Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation provide support for Parkinson's patients and their families.
About the Author: Holly Leber is the content & communications director for Do Good LLC.