A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

April 8, 2016

Paintings for Parkinson's 2016 - Our Story

Updated from April 2014 post...

December 2013

I was going to call this “my story,” but it’s really not about me. It’s about us. It’s about me and my husband, Steve, and our life together. Our story begins on January 9, 2004…our first date.

At age 30, while young in the grand scheme of things, I was nearly considered for spinsterhood here in Utah, where marriage between ages 18-25 is very common. When you pass that mid-twenties mark, you quickly find yourself in lonesome territory, where most of the men you meet in your age range are already married with kids. By 27 years old, it feels like your odds of finding a date, let alone husband, are almost nonexistent. By 30, you’d better resign yourself to the single life and make your peace with it! Not that I was on the hunt for a husband. In fact, I had settled into my life and reached a place where I was content. I had purchased a house, I had a good job, a cat, and I was able to set up my paints and easel in a corner of my dining room which officially became my “studio” area - where I could spend time painting almost every evening of the week.

Just like the cliché “It comes when you least expect it…” BAM! That’s when it happened. Right when I wasn’t looking. Right when I had made peace with my "spinster" life and was content. :) That’s when I met Steve. 

Our first date (bowling and pizza) - was a double date with my friend and her husband. And, despite the fact that he showed up with a BYU jacket on (bleh!) we had a lot of fun – an unexpected surprise for me. He was sweet, funny, had kind eyes and strong hands (it’s just one of my things!). Our first date led to a second, third, and so on.  We were engaged by March, and married in December. I was 31 at the time and Steve was 42. It was the first marriage for both of us. Despite a rough first year (as I think all couples have when blending two lives together), I was so happy that I had found my love and my soul mate, someone who appreciated who I was as a person and found me beautiful inside and out.

July 2010

Then, in the Spring/Summer of 2006, Steve developed a tremor in his left hand. Not extremely noticeable at first, but it was there. By December, he had a diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (at age 44). Two years into our new marriage, the meaning of “in sickness and in health” really hit home for us. My gentle, sweet-natured, soft-spoken husband was given a life-long sentence of a debilitating disease with no cure. And, faced with this knowledge, we had to make new life plans together.

This was not my first exposure to Parkinson’s Disease. My Aunt had also been diagnosed with Young Onset PD in her 40’s and had been living with it for some time. But, it takes on new meaning for you when it is your spouse, your life partner, your soul mate, your best friend, your eternal companion. Let’s be honest. It SUCKS! It feels like a mountain has just been placed on your shoulders. Not just for the person diagnosed with PD, but for those who love that person as well.

For me, the next step was research. I feel better about tackling any problem if I feel well-informed. It might be difficult, but at least you can develop a plan of approach if you understand the details. For Steve, the next steps were harder. They were questions of “why me?” and struggles with feelings of loss – the loss of the life he thought he would have and the life he hoped we would have together, the things we would do, and so on. To be fair, I worried a little about those things as well. And, I worry about them sometimes now. What will the next decade bring? How much help will he need? Will we still be able to go do things we plan to do? I don’t know the answer to these questions. But, I DO know this. NEVER give up or give in without a fight. Okay…so there’s no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. As I said, it SUCKS! But, at least it’s not a terminal diagnosis. It’s not cancer, not HIV/AIDS, not a stroke or a fatal heart attack. He still has the use of his limbs, though not as coordinated as he once was. And, yes, life has changed. But, you adapt and change with it. That’s what we have done. You live with Parkinson’s.

In 2008, we welcomed into our lives a true angel and blessing, our first son. Born seven weeks early due to complications I was having, our little fighter (3 lbs, 15.25 inches long) spent five weeks in the NICU (or Special Care Nursery – as it is now called). Grueling, to be sure, but we all made it through. Two years later, in 2010, our second son was born. Thankfully, he was full term and a healthy 8 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches long. Our oldest is growing up fast and is so smart and sweet. Still an angel! Our younger son is super cute, super smart, full of energy, and fearless. (Honestly, sometimes a challenge!). Both are tremendous blessings in our lives.

So…what brings me to the Paintings for Parkinson’s idea?
Well, I like to be proactive as much as possible. There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. But, maybe there could be! We don’t know the cause of Parkinson’s Disease, and the only way to find better treatments and to find a cure is for medical research to be funded. Until Michael J. Fox came on the scene with his Young Onset PD diagnosis, and Muhammed Ali some time later - two very high profile public figures - not much attention was given to Parkinson’s Disease. PD has long been thought of as an “old person’s disease.” In reality, approximately 2% of those diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease are considered Young Onset (diagnosed before age 50). There are over 5 Million people living with PD worldwide, 1 Million in the U.S.; and there will be 60,000 new cases diagnosed this year in the United States. We felt that the Michael J. Fox Foundation was a good place to start supporting PD research and looking for a cure. 

In 2009, I signed up for TeamFox, a grass roots effort for regular people like you and me to make a difference. We put together a "Pancakes for Parkinson's" fundraising breakfast to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and it was a fairly successful event for a first year. 

Our original intent was to make this an annual event. But, the following year, our second son was born in the Spring and I was too tired and too busy with a newborn, a two-year-old, full-time job, etc. to put together another event that summer. So that year turned into “next year,” which then became “maybe next year,” and so on. You see where I’m going?

In 2014, I put together a monthly eBay event called Paintings for Parkinson’s (the first evolution of the idea). This monthly event gathered together several artists who wished to participate by listing an auction on eBay during the first week of the month with at least a portion of the sale price being donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation via eBay Giving Works.

Again, like our Pancakes for Parkinson's event, it was mildly successful. But, by 2015, monthly participation and interest from artists was waning, and it was taking too much of my time to manage the event with too little participation. So, I decided to end it.

But, Paintings for Parkinson’s lives on in a new evolution for 2016. Beginning this year, I will choose one painting (or maybe a few) during the month of April to auction off on eBay - with 100% of the purchase price being donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research via eBay Giving Works (eBay automatically sends the donation to the foundation - and I can print out a donation receipt from eBay at the end of the year for my taxes).

I will list the painting(s) with P4PMJFF in the title to make it easily searchable. And, if I have artist friends who are still interested in participating once per year, then I welcome all of you on board! (Any percentage of auction donation is welcome. You don't have to do 100%!)

Why April? For the simple fact that April is Parkinson's Awareness Month...and also happens to be my husband's birthday month. Easy enough. :)

Look for my painting(s) to be listed on eBay starting on April 13th (my hubby's birthday) for a 7-day auction. Search P4PMJFF to find the listing(s) if you wish to bid.

To any artists who wish to participate, send me an email to jenniferloveartwork@yahoo.com and I will email you details. :)

We hike to Delicate Arch as often as we can. More movement = Good Medicine!

If you're not interested in bidding on a painting but would like to make a donation straight to the Michael J Fox Foundation, click the pic below. Thanks!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

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