​​​​Nan Little

​​​If I Can Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Why Can't I Brush My Teeth?

Courage, Tenacity and Love Meet Parkinson's Disease


I seldom think much about prayers and praying, people just do their own thing and hopefully it helps. Lately, however, I’ve received oh so many messages that people are praying for me.  What are they talking about?  Most just say they are praying for me.  Some tell me they are hoping I get well, or stay well, or improve. I would be dense if I didn’t admit to knowing that many are hoping I get well because that opens the door to the possibility that they will someday be able to take the same treatment and get well or more well too.  Someone thanked me for “taking one for the team”.  By that I believe he was applauding my willingness to be the first to try a previously untried therapy for Parkinson’s.  “Atta girl, Nan!”  “Lie there with a needle in your arm and hope it does some good.  If it does, I’ll be right behind you, asking for my place in line. In the meantime, I’ll pray for you.” 

I have a good friend who is a paragon on Catholicism who ends every email with the comment that he is praying for me.  One woman wrote that she feels so strongly about what I am doing that she marked my infusion days on her calendar so she would be sure to remember to pray for me on those days. 

When I was twenty-six my father died from ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  He was 56 and lay leader of our local Methodist Church.  The whole church prayed for him regularly, much to his concern.  His concern?  If people prayed for him to get well and he didn’t (an inevitable outcome with ALS), why wasn’t God paying attention to all those prayers?  Or if he did get well, what about all the prayers for worthy people who never had a chance, by birth or genetics or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Recovery seems random, not related to prayer.  When I was 66, into my fourth year of living with Parkinson’s, one of my brothers also died from ALS.  He wasn’t the church going type, but some people prayed for him anyway. 

So why pray?  Why not?  It’s one thing you can do to at least make yourself feel better irrespective of whether or not it has any influence on the course of the disease, yours or someone else’s.  As this is becoming more and more relevant in my life, I asked my Catholic friend what he actually prays for when he prays for me every day.  He prays for my happiness.  Simple.  He prays for my happiness.  Not freedom from disease, or pain or solutions to my problems.  He prays for my happiness.  He can’t possibly know how happy that makes me.  I think I finally understand the power of prayer.