Recently Margaret Tuchman joined an online Parkinson’s community at MyParkinsonsTeam.com, a social network for people living with Parkinson’s. Laura Crawford sent Margaret a welcoming note, some of her original artwork, and also spoke of how The Parkinson Alliance website was a help to her after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We are very grateful that Laura agreed to share her story and some of her artwork here.
When people ask me: “What do you do?” I mumble and look puzzled. In my case, a better question would be: “Why do you do what you do”?
You see, in many key aspects, I’m no longer who I was.
I was born in 1962, and for half a century my life ran on what I believed were firm tracks. I loved to read and majored in Literature. For 15 years I did media relations for a telecommunications firm. In 2009 I opened a Design and Communications agency. There I wrote copy while my partner led the graphic side of the business.
Then one day in February 2014 I heard four little words — how can I say this in a way that doesn’t seem melodramatic and yet conveys the massive importance of the moment?— that flipped my life over like an omelette on the range:
“You have Parkinson’s Disease.”
Duh. It was sort of undeniable: I shook; the muscles on one side of my body were scrunched taut; I couldn’t smell a thing (which on occasion was a blessing); I cried for no reason; I fell asleep in front of a client (he was very boring).
With time, though, it became apparent that the truly fundamental changes were occurring in my brain.
Once my life was encased in books; now it is overflowing with markers, pencils, sketchpads and other paraphernalia of the arts. Instead of flipping the pages of a novel, I doodle, draw, and my hands are usually dirty with ink.
I don’t illustrate or draw to please, though that would be nice extra. I do it because I have to, as I free fall into this raw and surprising stage of my life.
Where I was very coherent and (blush) quite eloquent, I now bumble and look for words that sometimes are no longer there.
Yet, even if it were possible, I would not change this final stretch of my life (dopamine-eating monster inside me and all) for the one torn away by those four words.
I have found an undeniable pleasure in graphics and purpose and vibrancy (though that could just be the shakes) in the community of Parkie colleagues and their caregivers.
If you think it through, even if Parkinson’s is a life-sapping monster that disfigures us with time, everyone ends up a corpse at the end.
Given that cheery fact, at least I can say that at this very moment I’m thoroughly enjoying a cup of coffe while writing this. You have what you have, life is what it is… And moreover, I was given the opportunity to march this last bend of the road in the loving loving loving loving company of my husband and my peers.
Just listen to our collective footsteps resound in deep compassion of the human condition that we share.
Thank you Laura! We look forward to sharing more of your artwork in the future!
— Margaret Tuchman and her blogging partner, Gloria Hansen