It’s been exactly one year since my last blog post. My social media hiatus was not planned. Nor is it over. I’m still processing the world of widowhood. Perhaps one day I’ll emerge with stories to share, but for now I’m content to occasionally shine a light on inspiring bloggers. Today I’d like to introduce you to my teenage niece Kayla. She started reading at age two. If you or someone you know loves reading as much as Kayla does — particularly Young Adult and Middle Grade books — check out her book review blog. She’s brilliant and blunt; dedicated and insightful; ambitious and knowledgeable. Kayla has definitely found her calling!
Woke up alone in bed. Again. Shuffled to the kitchen. Greeted “good morning” by my radiant piano. Tuned in to Bergen. He loved music and how it connects communities. The way Keys to the Streets does — a project that aims to transform social isolation into community belonging by putting pianos in public spaces, for anyone to play. #keys2streets
Found my late husband’s driver’s licence from 1965. Bergen was 22. A young man destined to travel the world. Had we met back then — when I was just one year old — I could have been his carry-on luggage.
April 21, 1943 – January 16, 2016 Bergen Amren passed away peacefully on January 16th. Born in Prince Rupert, he grew up in the bustling town of Bear Creek, Yukon, he was moved to Vancouver at the age of seven and sprinted his way through the halls of Killarney High School, East Van, then UBC for a BA in Psychology and Sociology and an MA in Sociology . Bergen’s careers were many, including stints with the Ombudspersons Office, ICBC and the office of the Attorney General. A late bloomer, Bergen met Robyn, the love of his life, and became a father to Naomi when he was 50. A carpenter, outdoorsman, musician, dancer, cook, world traveller and guy with a dry sense of humor, Bergen entertained his family and friends for years with a menu of never-ending possibilities. As a volunteer, he brought his skills as a mediator, facilitator, mentor and someone with a keen sense of social justice to the communities and people he loved. Remembered for his joie de vivre, warmth, humour, intelligence, compassion, generosity and endless curiosity.
It’s been – and still is – a long, hot summer. Miraculously, I’ve managed not to melt. More incredible, I worked up the courage to buy some real art supplies. Stuff I intentionally stopped using when diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Why? By avoiding exposure to potential neurotoxins in paint, I hoped to protect what was left of my neurodegenerating brain cells. Soon after this boycott, I discovered the magical realm of digital art. But recently I’d been craving the real deal. The physical smearing of paint upon canvas. Tactile textures. Accidental drips. So after an eight year hiatus, I have resumed painting with acrylics and I am overjoyed. I know this might not be good for my brain. But then again, neither is Parkinson’s disease.
I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power. That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about Portland Countdown. This new series of free educational podcasts — hosted by two highly experienced journalists (who are also living with Parkinson’s) — kicks off today. Together, Jon Palfreman and Dave Iverson take listeners on a journey into the realm of Parkinson’s disease: the history, research and treatment, family dynamics and much more. Accompanied by neuroscientists, neurologists, people with Parkinson’s (PwP), caregivers, and carepartners, these engaging conversations are the perfect primer for the 4th World Parkinson Congress taking place in Portland, Oregon September 20 – 23, 2016. Click here to listen to or download #WPCPodcast episode one.
Parky made its debut in Montreal at the World Parkinson Congress 2013. Selling these stuffed toy raccoons was a “last minute” fundraising idea, leaving no time to create and advertise a Parkyfundraising campaign. Much to everyone’s surprise and delight, Parky was a hit! 750 raccoons were sold; $7,500 was raised for Travel Grants to the upcoming World Parkinson Congress 2016 taking place in Portland, Oregon, September 20 – 23, 2016. With just 495 days to go until opening day — Parkyis back and with your generous support, together you’ll be paying it forward to Travel Grants for World Parkinson Congress 2019. So click here to buy your Parky!