|Photo by Paco S on Unsplash|
It’s your feet that signal to me. A change in the sound of your shoe hitting the sidewalk puts me on alert to watch for a stumble. A dozen sudden tiny steps and you grab for support. I am there too.
I watch, I listen, alert and at the ready. We were never dancers, and yet, your feet dictate the rhythm of our days together.
We adjust to the random metronome of your feet each day. Seldom a pattern, we aim to stay in the moment. Patient, flexible, we move forward, walking—but also ready to push back against gravity, a sudden move toward the ground. Another fall. People’s concern. Your quick reflexes, back on your feet. But again they are frozen, stubbornly refusing to move forward. We wait.
Undaunted, you insist. Now striding, your walking poles tapping, we resume our morning walk. The surprise, the relief palpable. I know not to talk or ask questions because it’s too much for you to process. The movement itself is enough. A nearly imperceptible shuffling sound and I immediately push back your chest with both arms, catching you, keep you upright. Deep breaths. We regroup. You nod assurance. We resume.
And then there are the hard days. We get stuck blocks from home and need the transport chair. Like that cold Saturday morning, sheltering by the stone wall of St. James, we get the call that Pete died. We sob together for a while, then I run to get the chair.
Or last Tuesday, when it takes all your energy to produce short bursts of shuffling, punctuated by resting. You do this five times, each burst initiated by rocking back and forth, cajoling your brain to let you move forward. Finally you are close enough to crash land on the entrance steps to the Frye. Gasping for air, you regroup while I retrieve the chair.
Patty Molloy and her husband Marty Steyer have been married for 40 years this summer. Marty was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 16 years ago.