Doug Nemeth was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago and has participated in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk since 2009 as a member of “Livin’ La Levodopa.” Doug believes resilience is one of the factors that contribute to his living well with Parkinson’s disease and recently shared this story.
Nearly 45 years ago, my parents gave me a small stick of a lemon tree as a gift. It survived high school, went with me to college and survived the move from Florida to Florence, NJ. It survived six moves in the Reading area of Pennsylvania, one during a Halloween snowstorm. It survived severe drought outside in the summer especially when we went on vacation. I always hired a local teenager to water the tree in my absence but inevitably the youth hired to do the job felt that a one minute rain shower was adequate for the 3’ tree until we returned home a week later, in spite of daily temperatures of 95 degrees. The tree always rebounded when it saw me and the hose. It survived me waiting until Thanksgiving to bring it inside after barely enduring freezing temperatures. Everyone who knows me well knows I have this lemon tree a very long time! They also probably have enjoyed lemonade from my lemon tree or at least a squeeze of lemon in their water or tea. The tree has yielded countless bushels of lemons over the years and has had over 25 full size lemons on it at any one time.
By this past winter, it was obvious that time had taken its toll. The lemon tree lost all of its leaves during an early frost. I forgot I put it in the guest bedroom – my cognitive functioning is fading due to my living with Parkinson’s disease – and the tree was apparently dead after six weeks of “drought” at my own hand. In late April, with no one wanting to even mention the lemon tree, I put it out to its final resting place. At the last minute, I decided to repot it. It was lifeless…rotted roots and no green anywhere but I decided to do it anyway. Everyone chuckled about the dead tree in my garden. Two months later, after having been without leaves for eight months, the tree is starting to push out growth everywhere. It is nothing short of a miracle. If that tree can live through that, I can certainly live with Parkinson’s disease. That lemon tree has taught me about resilience. It is a family heirloom. My son, Zach says the only thing he wants of mine after I’m gone is the lemon tree. Take good care of it Zach and continue to learn from it.
“Livin’ La Levodopa”