I am Teresa D. Henderson. This story is about my dad, Philip E. Henderson. He was the most beautiful human being I have ever known. He had endless patience, always believed in all of his children, in all of our endeavors, mistakes, dreams, hopes, and thankful lessons learned.
He was a brother, a son, a husband, a father, an attorney, a mentor to friends, co-workers, anyone seeking his endless bounds of wisdom and guidance. He also had Parkinson’s disease and despite it, he kept going. He continued to educate others and learn things for his own passion for knowledge, “It keeps my brain alive,” he would say.
He did all he could to learn more about Parkinson’s; he studied it, and he continued to challenge doctors, disease models, and worked at living with Parkinson’s on his own terms. Dad never complained. During the mid-years of his illness, I had a morning routine of helping him get dressed. I found him sitting in his chair, humming old melodies to himself and he was cheerful! He was mostly dressed except for his socks and shoes. One sock was almost on his entire foot! I kissed him good morning, and sat on the floor by his feet, offered to help get his socks on. He replied, “No thank you, I am making progress! This use to take me eleven minutes, now it only take me seven minutes. I just have to get the rest of this sock on my heel and up my leg. Progress, daughter!”
I was so proud of him; I tearfully cheered him on. We, all of us, do we ever really have a bad day or know what a bad day is? Probably not. If dad could get a sock on in seven minutes, and be blessed tickled proud of it, then anything is possible, and everything we can do is a blessing.
My dad was my hero. When I first spoke with him about wanting to start running and maybe doing a marathon one day, he replied, “Why not?”
When I spoke with him about wanting to get a bike and start riding, training for century rides, he replied, “Why not?”
When I sought his wisdom and spoke with him about wanting to start swimming, and train for triathlons, he replied, “Why not?” That simple. “You can do anything, daughter,” he said.
I can do anything, we can do anything we choose to do. Especially with this belief, his stoic examples of getting through the struggles of motor control, rigidity, memory deficits and challenging himself with total excitement of his own marathon, “I can make it down the block and back, walking unassisted!,” he would say. Then I can do anything, we can all do anything.
My sweetheart Craig Ullman and I have decided to use our talents in running, cycling and triathlon events to raise money for the National Parkinson Foundation. We will be doing a series of races to bring awareness and to raise funds for NPF as members of Team Hope™ for Parkinson’s! So, if you want to donate $5, $10, $20, $50 or more to see Craig with his ‘no cartilage knees’ cross the finish line of a 5k or 10k, Craig attempting to chase down young whipper-snappers on his bike, Craig completing a ride with 5,700 + feet of elevation gain and his being able to stand with shaking legs after the event, please donate.
Or if you want to donate $5, $10, $20, $30, $50 or more to see Teresa cycle up some large hills without falling, Teresa completing a metric century ride with over 3,000 ft elevation gain and remain standing after dismounting the bike, or Teresa inch closer to a sub 5 hour marathon, please donate.
If my dad has ever given you guidance, advice, support, care, or touched your life in any way, please donate. Thank you!
To register for a Moving Day® in your area visit NPFmovingday.org.