CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Bernard Shaw once said that "youth is wasted on the young." I don't know that I agree entirely with his philosophy, but I understand what he meant.
When we are young, we believe we are invincible. It doesn't matter if we drive too fast or experiment with things that are better left untested. We believe we will live forever. The future is wide open. Tomorrow will come another time.
We don't think about danger or the consequences of our decisions. We ignore our parents' advice because we don't believe they understand what it's like to be 13 or 17, or whatever age we are. And when parents ask their children, "What were you thinking," the obvious answer is, they weren't.
With each passing birthday, I am finding the notion of invincibility being pushed to the background as reality propels its way forward.
Reality reminds me that breast cancer is common among the women in my family. So for decades, I have been doing the proper testing while preparing myself mentally for the moment when I would find it necessary to have the breast cancer discussion with my doctor. I was ready to hear the diagnosis and fight the battle with whatever weapons were available. I was prepared for breast cancer.
I was not prepared for Parkinson's disease.
When the symptoms started manifesting themselves early last year, I didn't think much about them at first. I was a little frustrated at the difficulty I was having signing my name or writing a note in a greeting card, so I either shortened the note or eliminated it entirely. I found it easier to print in capital letters, so my grocery lists were at least legible, even if it did look as though they were screaming at me.