What do Michael J. Fox and my wife have in common? They both have Parkinsons and they both exhibit guts and determination. It was five years ago when we were told that Rita’s symptoms were those of Parkinsons. From that day to this, things have progressed, not in the way that we would have liked. Yet in spite of the adverse conditions and constant inconveniences, my wife has never given up, or given in to discouragement.

 Within the next week Rita will have completed 750 visits to Curves, the women’s fitness place. At first she had no problem doing the circuit of machines, it grew more difficult and exhausting as time went on so some machines had to be left out. Now she can no longer do the circuit but continues with the vibration machine to help her muscles. It’s a struggle for her to get ready, to get there and to change her shoes when she is there. It must be humiliating to have to ask people for help when she needs it. But her determination remains undaunted.

The phrase, “We have to laugh otherwise we would cry” applies to this situation and so we do laugh together. We laugh about her predicament in attempting to get dressed. We laugh about how long it takes her to get in and out of bed or in and out of the car. We laugh about the stores being closed before we get there because it takes her so long to get ready. It would be easier not to go out. It would be easier not to eat out when it takes twice as long as others to eat your meal and you lack strength in your hands to get the food to your mouth. But that is not Rita. We go out, we eat out and we mix and mingle in spite of potential embarrassment.

 There are times I wish God would heal Rita. In my books I have written about miracles, healings, who God is and how he intervenes – but Rita remains unhealed. She was healed from breast cancer a number of years ago but not at present from Parkinsons. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps we are learning more from it than if she was healed. I know I have learned much from Rita’s attitude.

 You probably have spouses, loved ones, relatives or friends who are suffering with Parkinsons or other similar debilitating diseases. So many of them are like Rita. They do not complain. They show us the meaning of patience and perseverance. They exhibit true grit. They refuse to be beaten.

 I would like to say to all those people, whoever you are and wherever you are, we salute you. I salute you, because I don’t think I could do what you do. Thank you for being who you are!