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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Moving Day

[On Day 4 of NaBloPoMo, I'm coming in a cool 3 minutes under the wire. My dear friends and dinner guests, M and K, are to blame for all objectionable content, grammatical goofs and that horrific song "Gangnam Style."]

Parkinsons Disease touches most people’s lives somehow, even if indirectly. 
The nasty hand of PD reached out and smacked our family in 2007, when Papa Yank was diagnosed with it.

Last year at about this time, the Parkinsons Foundation of the National Capitol Area held the first annual Moving Day walk at Nationals Park to help raise research funds for, and awareness of, PD.  I joined a team at the last minute and participated in the two-mile walk.

This year, our clan formed a team which we named the D@mn Yanks.   From our immediate family, twelve of fifteen Yanks signed up to support of Papa Yank. (The other three live in Georgia, so they couldn’t make the event but did send the single largest donation, along with and all kinds of good vibes.) 

Our walkers for the second annual Moving Day ranged in age from seven to seventy.  A couple days before the event, my thirteen year-old nephew, a budding track star, asked, “Can I run the two miles?”

“It’s not a race, honey,” I said. I explained that we were walking to support his grandfather and all the other people PD affects, so our pace didn’t matter.

We arrived ridiculously ahead of schedule for the walk this morning. (The phrase "Early is on time and on time is late" is a strand of the Yank DNA.)  After checking in, we still had about an hour to kill so we strolled over to an area called the “Movement Pavilion.”  

Research consistently demonstrates that exercise helps in managing PD, and this section housed a series of stations designed to illustrate specific types of movement.  We went through all of them—ropes, tai chi, balancing—and then reached the rowing machines.

Mom and Dad sat down at adjacent machines.  I don't think they'd ever taken up tandem boating, unless you count singing rounds of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” while en route to the Outer Banks when we were kids.  My sister, Suzi, and I watched them, reminding us that a couple that rows together…cracks up their kids.

[Here we are, the D@mn Yanks and a presidential mascot, seeking solace in the company of fellow fatheads, apparently.]

We dried our eyes, corralled the herd of Yanks, and started the walk.  The sun shone and everyone smiled, but my memory reminded me that not every Yank family walk has been so uneventful or filled with so much merriment.

For example, while I was visiting Suzi and her family in Richmond a couple years ago, she and I decided to take a stroll through the neighborhood.  Along the way we encountered her neighbor’s teenaged daughter, who happened to be walking a beagle and a mid-sized mutt. The dogs seemed a bit agitated and the girl overwhelmed as the pooches stretched their leashes to their limits.

“Are you okay?” Suzi asked the girl.

Arm fully extended, she pleaded, “Can you help me?”  Suzi and I promised to send for help and turned around, heading in the direction of home.  The beagle had a different plan for us. He jerked the leash out of the girl’s hand, ran up to me, and chomped me in the rear. 

It took me a second to realize what had happened. I was reluctant to admit that I’d been attacked by a beagle because I assumed most people, on hearing that a dog had bitten a lawyer, would immediately send contributions to the dog's legal defense fund.

But the area where he’d struck hurt (and the wind blew through my yoga pants in an unfamiliar way) so I said to my sister, as casually as I could manage, “You know how that dog jumped up on me? Well, I think he bit me.” 

 She whirled around. “What? Let me see!”  I refused.  Being bit by Snoopy was one thing, a family mooning was another altogether.  I felt less compunction about mooning strangers so I went to an urgent care clinic, had the wound examined, and left with a tetanus shot and some antibiotics.

Today’s PD walk with the family, by contrast, was far less dramatic and even offered some comedy.  For a while we walked next to a team called the “Movers and Shakers.”  I won’t say whether they did more of the former or the latter, but I can tell you they had fun the whole way.

The last bit of our two mile walk took the D@mn Yanks into Nats Stadium itself.  This gave my father, a lifelong baseball diehard, an unparalleled opportunity to stroll the warning track, admire the beauty of a 402 foot shot over the center field fence from a totally different vantage point, and pose next to an ad that read, “For The Love of Beer.”   

Like I said to my nephew, Moving Day wasn’t a race.  When it ended, my breath wasn’t shallow and I wasn’t sweating.  But it certainly lived up to its name because it moved me deeply.  Being surrounded by so many people united in purpose made my heart soar in a way no marathon ever did.  And in one important way it was very much like a race: Moving Day is all about winning.


  1. This was lovely.


    1. Aw, thank you, Shannon. I woke up with my first NaBloPoMo hangover--wondering what I'd done the night before and more than a little afraid to face it. Sounds like I could've done worse!

  2. what a great day, great retelling and funny ass-chomping side story! I love that your whole family got together *waves to your peeps in Georgia with me*, for such a great purpose. Love!

    1. Thank you for the kind words--you truly are a peach! And my fan deserves all the praise you gave 'em. Our tribe is its own brand of fantastic weirdness, but we absolutely do know how to rally. These folks supported me heroically during my marital splat so I was pretty stoked to be able to give back for once. And, of course, to release the hound story. :)

  3. Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!
    I am pretty sure I have said that about a million times to my family who live on "elastic time" where everything happens within a two hour window.

    I really enjoyed reading the story and I love that you walk together. :-)

  4. Oh man, our strange is missing that last part, or maybe it's just recessive. Thanks for the rowmie support!