A Quiet Grove: Finding Support with Parkinson’s Through Community
Note: Today’s blog is an excerpt from an article written by Parkinson’s patient Ray Bruns. He originally addressed this to his support group:
A preserve of historical California Oak trees touches our back yard. Those old trees are blemished, tattered, bent and crooked, but we love them! They exist on the rocky ledges, with too much sun and wind, and scarcity of water. They have lived through diseases, droughts, quakes, axes, forest fires, lighting strikes, quakes and floods.
Yet, trees like these have a peaceful aura about them. They are a sanctuary that quiets you and fills you with awe and respect. What they have been through is not important; all that counts is that they provide comfortable shade and wind protection to all in need.
These trees work as a perfect metaphor for my friends in the Parkinson’s Dystonia Never Give Up (NGU) Group.
NGU is a private Facebook community of 1000 or more people struggling with the impacts of Parkinson’s. Like the grove, they completely forget their many serious individual struggles and just focus on working together to provide comfort to those who are in need.
At first, I resisted joining any Facebook community because I thought, “I am not advanced enough in the disease to need a support group.” Besides, I already have a passion I’m busy pursuing—I get paid to coach business owners and transform them from being just self-employed to building a performing asset.
But I quickly learned that the group is not about receiving help. Through the loving and caring, examples of hundreds of NGU members, I learned that a good support group is about forgetting yourself and offering service to others. Things such as coaching, prayers and virtual hugs and thoughts can go a long way towards helping someone cope.
That’s when I realized that you can have an even more meaningful purpose in life if you don’t get paid for it. When you lose yourself in a community like NGU, whose purpose is just to help and comfort, you discover a whole new meaning to a life with Parkinson’s.
I enjoyed more than 60 years of growing in rich, fertile ground. Then all of sudden I was ripped out and transplanted to the arid, rocky ledge. For a couple years I battled depression and wrestled with answers to the question, “Why?” What I learned through joining NGU was that people with Parkinson’s, like the historic trees, “bloom where they’ve been planted.” Through that came the new “why” for my existence.