April 9, 2012

Phyllis Richman: Singing, Dancing, Moving

On May 3, 2011, beloved former Washington Post food critic Phyllis Richman -- like me, a Person with Parkinson’s – wrote a piece for her old paper. In that article, she questioned why Michael J. Fox – arguably our country’s most well-known PWP – described himself as “lucky” to have encountered the disease. Phyllis didn’t consider herself similarly fortunate for having developed Parkinson’s.

Her article generated lots of reactions. Many readers thought Phyllis had been less than generous in her comments about MJF.

I ran Phyllis’s article here on my blog, in a post that also generated lots of conversation. I reached out to Phyllis for a response, which she generously supplied, along with a favorite recipe for “Don’t-Tell-Them-How-Easy-It-Is Chocolate Mousse." You can read her article, the comments it generated, and her delicious recipe (which Phyllis described as a “peace offering”) here.

And so, I was happy to see a new article from Phyllis in the health section of the Post on April 2, 2012. This time, Phyllis describes the challenges – and mainly the successes – of her choir, dance, and exercise classes. She begins this way:

Parkinson’s disease is a thief. It robbed me of the ability to turn over in bed. I can no longer take a long walk. Opening a plastic bag or turning a newspaper page has become a challenge. We PWPs become familiar with loss. 
In my case, though, Parkinson’s has also granted one of my keenest desires. After decades of hopelessly wishing on birthday candles and turkey collarbones that I could carry a tune, suddenly I can unashamedly join in family singalongs. I can sing.
Phyllis’s piece ends this way:
The ability to sing. The opportunity to fly. The company of a new best buddy. Those are accomplishments of my Parkinson’s classes. So what if I can’t touch my toes? It’s enough to make me believe in silver linings.
No, Phyllis hasn’t decided to call herself “lucky” like MJF. But she’s now talking about “silver linings,” and those are awfully nice to see.

For that recent Washington Post article, and Phyllis's positive assessment of how singing, dancing, and exercise are helping her, click here. Reading it made me happy.

No comments: