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My Dad's dad came here from Liverpool when he was 13. He died of cancer at age 48. My Dad was 21 at that time. My Dad always said every year he had after 48 was gravy.

Jimmy Ross is an American success story. The son of immigrant parents, growing up in the Depression, he worked his way up from the mailroom to become the Creative Director and VP of a major advertising agency during the "Mad Man" era.

He was a hardworking and devout Catholic who married young and raised seven children with his wife, Theresa. Theresa and Jimmy knew each other since they were 14 years old. They are now 80. They've been married 61 years.

When the youngest child was at the point of completing her education, the man who thought he'd never retire, who had finally opened an agency of his own, discovered at age 58 that he had Parkinson's disease.

Today, celebrating his 80th birthday with friends and family (as in the attached picture), he is still a vibrant power of example to his family, friends, and all who know him. He is ceaselessly upbeat. He embodies great faith and a sense of humor. He keeps a very active schedule and is involved in his own healthcare, his Church, the Right to Life movement, as well as caring for his home, his wife and his children.

Parkinson's has not been easy or kind to him. He was a big strapping man, 6'2", with a powerful build. He now appears somewhat frail, although he is as strong as an ox. He falls a lot. It's hard for a proud man. But he gets up and never complains. His art and photography have been affected by his shaking and the business he opened had to be traded for disability and a fixed income and the expenses of medication. Still he is so generous with others. His speech has been affected, and it's difficult because he has so much wisdom and life experience. But he has become a worldclass listener! (Unless you ask my Mom!)

My Mom has been a wonderful caregiver, dealing with the day to day undoing of the health of her big strong sweetheart of over 60 years. She picks up the slack, driving, setting up doctor appointments, carrying many responsibilities, trying hard to enjoy a conversation with my Dad, while he does his best to help and participate. She has to stay by his side because she is fearful of his falling if left alone.

Still, they are a unit and they shuffle on at an awesome schedule for two 80 year olds, especially given that one has Parkinsonís. She pots plants and speaks with other caregivers of Parkinsonís patients at the wellness center. He does his PT and speech classes and ran into an old classmate in this PD Wellness Program!

In 2009, they lost a son Christopher who loved and admired his Dad and was a great fundraiser for Parkinsonís. This was hard on them, but they carry on with the faith that has served them so well in dealing with every difficulty.

Jimmy and Theresa Ross are powerful examples of living well with Parkinsonís through faith and love and humor and action!

Posted by Carol Cress on April 27, 2011


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