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Parkinson’s disease: a true story

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Posted on 12th November 2010.

12 November 2010

Parkinsons Disease a True Story

Alfred Isaac Holloway was a farmer, he rose every morning at 5 am, he would wash, dress and before the sun even started to peep over the horizon, would leave the house and walk to his farm yard to make sure everything was in order before the farm hands arrived to begin the days farming. Once they arrived he would issue instructions, and for the rest of the day oversee what needed to be done. He had his dinner at 6.30pm and retired to bed at 8.00pm.

Alfred was also a husband, father, grandfather and brother. He was a strong man and to those that knew him “Alf” as he was affectionately known, was an unstoppable force of nature. He could wrestle a young bullock to the ground, shoot the wings off a fly, speak five languages and even find the time to cradle his young granddaughter in his arms when she fell and scraped her knee, telling her silly stories until she was able to smile again. He was truly unbeatable.

That was until he became sick.

Alf was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 61 years old. It started with tremors in his left hand side, which then moved to the rest of his body. He kept loosing his balance and noticed that sometimes when he walked he would stumble, even though he thought he had taken a normal stride forward.

The decision was made, that he could not possibly farm anymore. farming was in his blood, his father had been a farmer and his grandfather before him. He had to give it all up. The farm, machinery and livestock were sold or divided up amongst relatives and Alf and his wife went to live in a little retirement village, far away from his beloved fields and hills.

The Parkinson’s progressed slowly at first, but over time became more noticeable. Movement became more difficult, the long strides he had once taken became shuffling hesitant steps. His posture once erect became stooped and bent and the shaking and the muscle pain never went away. He found it difficult to sleep and would spend ceaseless hours pacing up and down.

This may sound awful, as you have now built a picture of this once strong and vigorous man, being beaten down by the disease, but Alf, never one to look on the dark side of things lived his new life to the full.

He was quick to make friends and soon had assembled a “gang” (i use the term loosely as this gang refer’s to a number very distinguished gentlemen all over the age of 65) of friends and they were soon causing trouble at church bake sales or going fishing, where one of them would invariably fall in or hook one of the others and then spend hours untangling themselves or drying off on the river bank.

This new way of life also allowed him to indulge in hobbies that before he had never any time for. These were geology, hypnotism and ornithology. He collected rocks and semi precious stones and would spend hours trying to match stones to the pictures shown in books. His hypnotism was less successful, but everyone played along pretending to be under his spell, jumping on one leg when he asked it or clucking like a chicken when he said “you are now a rooster”. His great love became his birds, he hand reared two parrots a number of doves and a kestrel. The parrots and the kestrel would sit on his shoulders or on the back of his favourite TV chair and watch TV with him whilst picking holes in his wife’s chair coverings with their beaks. Leaving Little deposits where ever they went.

Alfred Isaac Holloway died at the age of 74.

Being diagnosed with an incurable disease, does not mean that your life has come to an end. Far from it! It will definitely mean change and a lot of the time great upheaval, but for many it can also present opportunities to do the things that you have never had time for before and appreciate what before you took for granted.

Sally Tomkotowicz