Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where Am I ?

It's a question my father has asked me every day for the past week.

"You're in the hospital Dad."

Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the summer of 2002.  The progression - watching "superman" slump, tremble and stiffen -  has been gradual and challenging.

But it is also a gift.  His disease has slowed him down enough for us to get to know each other.

His fierce independence now takes a back seat.  He needs someone and it is me.  I am sitting pretty in the drivers seat and he is willingly beside me.

Through example, Dad teaches me strength and courage.

I have listened.  I have learned.  And today, I will practice.

Dad stopped speaking yesterday.  He stopped opening his eyes.  He will not eat.

I am by his side, squeezing every last ounce out of him.  Photographing him, videotaping him, talking to him, being still with him.

I am focused on his breath.  In-between the soft gargle of pooled lungs, I am flooded with memories of his laughter, his determination, his uncanny sense of timing, his wit, his temper, and his intensity.

Today, he will steer and I will watch - willingly and gratefully.

Where will you go today Dad?

Oh! The Places You'll Go! 
By the incomparable Dr. Seuss 

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets.
Look’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”

With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true
that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a lurch.

You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And chances are, then, that you’ll be in a slump.
And when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darker.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?
Do you dare to go in?

How much can you lose?
How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters?
Or, maybe, not quite?

Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
 or a pot to boil,
or a better break
or a string of pearls,
or a pair of pants or a wig with curls,
or another chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.
With banners flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go!
There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.
There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.

You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet
things that scare you right out of your seat.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul.
On you will go though your enemies prowl.
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.

Onward up many a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may squeak.
On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
 and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that life’s a great balancing act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum
or Bixby
or Bray
or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


  1. Shannon, you did it again. I'm speechless and that doesn't happen to me very often. You write so beautifully about subjects many wouldn't want to share. What a wonderful daughter you are and I feel so joyful that you had/have such a fabulous father.

  2. Dear Shannon
    This is so sad. Having lost my dad just over a month ago, I can only empathise with what lies ahead. Be strong and keep holding onto those good memories.
    Thoughts are with you.
    Take care

  3. Beautiful, touching an so memorable.

    How very blessed you are to be there with him, learning all the while.
    It's amazing that you realize so soon what a blessing this time is.

  4. I'm so glad now I refreshed my browser and like Becky I'm speechless. There are no words for comfort right now, I know. The squeezing of every precious moment.

    Dr. Seuss what a fitting tribute. I loved the green monkey on the IV stand, too.

    I'm here sending positive thoughts and holding you close. Big Hug
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  5. Shannon, my thoughts and prayers are with you. It's an honor to accompany you in spirit during this difficult yet joyful time. May you and your father receive many blessings.

  6. I'm pretty emotional right now. He will not eat for me. He's very combative and they had to give him a sedative but its so much better than those giant boxing mitts they made him wear when we first got here.

    Yes, I understand so much more now. Kerry taught me. It took me almost 2 years to be able to smile at a memory of my son. I'm not wasting any time with Dad.

    Thank you everyone. I do not feel so alone today....

  7. Very touching, Shannon. My thoughts are with you both everyday. Shout if I can help in anyway. -Jay

  8. Beautiful. Keeping you close in thought today Shannon as you care for your treasured Dad. He's very lucky to have a daughter like you - and will take your LOVE with him on to the next great thing. XOXO Paula - Your friend from afar...

  9. awwwww shanny...cryin' and smilin' with you!

  10. Very touching, Shannon. Thinking of you during this most difficult time. Love you! XOXO


  11. This is a beautiful post ! I don't know what to say, but all my prayers are for you and your family.

  12. Hey Shannonkennedy - this is excellent. Many of us have gone through what you are experiencing - feel free to lean on us. Also, that book is awesome - we used to read that book to the kids all the time - it is one of our favorites!

  13. Bless you, my sister

    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral



  14. Ingrid Maria EricssonMarch 9, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Dear Shannon, my thoughts are with you, I know what it´s like, been there myself, sitting by my fathers side...we love them, they know it, love is eternal....xo Ingrid

  15. Made me cry. We have a family member battling parkinson's now. He is still mobile and able to live alone, but every year we watch... and know it's coming.

    For now, I will enjoy his garden this summer, happily vist for dinner every time he asks, and regal as many old stories as he'd like... and as many times as he'd like to tell them.

    Thinking of you... ((((HUGS))))

  16. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. And you are so lucky to have spent some time with him. You are in my thoughts and prayers

  17. Shannon, how beautiful... I was with my father when he passed in 1988; and then my mother in 2005. I only wish I could have put words together during those moments in my life. I envy your strength. God bless you and your dad. You are both so lucky to have each other.
    Liz Martin

  18. Oh jeez, that's another ride of a write.

    I need to prep myself before I stop by your page!

    All I will say is... we’re all going to hit a wall (like your father) at some point down the road. We should all be so blessed as to have someone like you documenting that we were here at all.

  19. Beautiful, Minky.You are in our thoughts & prayers. And I agree with many of the posters here, that your Dad is very lucky to have a devoted a daughter as you-
    Bunny Love and Hugs, ALWAYS!
    DB & BB

  20. Sorry to read this, it saddens me terribly as my Dad was also a Parkinson's Disease Sufferer. It is such a very cruel illness. My thoughts are with you and your Dad.

  21. Wonderful post...I'm glad you can see the good in this difficult time. It's very sad but I'm happy you have those special moments with DAD because he will always be just that...DAD


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


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