Divine Calm: Poise

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"Don't slouch," my mother would frequently scold me during my childhood. Then she would require me to stand against the wall until my shoulders touched the flowered wallpaper in the correct posture. Being 5 feet 10 inches tall, my mother stood proudly erect and wanted her growing daughters to do the same.

Now my mom, who just recently turned 53, has to really work hard in order to stand up straight and even maintain her balance. My mom has Parkinson's disease, and every movement she makes requires more concentration and determination than my mother fears she has. However, almost every morning my mother wakes up early, dresses, laces her shoes with her one arm, and walks rapidly around the neighborhood.

Parkinson's isn't the first battle my mother has encountered. As a shy, yet beginning to blossom, 17-year old, my mother lost almost all of her left arm in a farm accident during her senior year of high school. She recovered with the help of loved ones and learned to adjust to sewing, baking, cooking, shopping, and other tasks like tying shoes with only one arm. After briefly attending a small local college during her freshman year, my mother made the brave choice to attend the much larger Purdue University.

As a frustrated child who wasn't getting help from a math teacher, I remember my mother encouraging me to stand up for myself. She recounted how she had asked the Purdue chemistry professors to figure out how she could pour beakers into test tubes with only one arm. After some reluctance from the professors, my mom asserted that she was paying for her education and, as salaried staff, they were being paid to help her. They helped her just like my math teacher helped me after I applied my mom's lesson and spoke up in class.

Now my mom is grappling with how to battle Parkinson's. There are good days when she is able to last a shopping trip without pain, and there are bad days when standing is nearly impossible. Nonetheless, I pray that she will regain her poise, even if it is only figuratively, and remember that asking for help can be noble.