A Passion for Life
Nine years ago, when Art Hannafin was 72, he started noticing mild PD symptoms in the form of an irregular gait, slight stiffness, and imbalance. He was still working full time running his architectural firm, he was very active in the community, and was an outdoor recreation enthusiast, particularly enjoying hiking, mountain climbing, cross country skiing, and bicycling with friends and family, including numerous grandchildren. Doctors said that his PD symptoms maybe would’ve appeared earlier in his life if it were not for his high level of exercise.
Art did not let the PD symptoms deter him. He continued to work full time, and exercise at full speed, but over the next five years more PD symptoms appeared and the others worsened. By 2008, he had stopped most of his outdoor recreation except for easy hikes and walking, which he continued to do every morning with Shadow, his canine companion. Despite his mobility limitations though, he kept right on working full time.
During his last two years, PD severely impacted his speech and swallowing. Art had been a great story teller, and enjoyed social events, including the socializing that goes hand in hand with a good meal. He began to find it was so difficult to chew and swallow his food without choking that he had to stop eating in public. His voice had also become so soft that it was very hard to hear him. In addition, swallowing pills without choking became an enormous challenge. Fortunately, his wife Marlene became an expert at making him nutritional smoothies to drink, but the social pleasure of eating was gone, and taking his medication was a major chore and choking risk
He got aspiration pneumonia three times in his last 7 months. This past Thanksgiving the mountain climber in him still managed to find the strength with the help of his children to climb up the staircase to his bedroom for one last time, be bathed by his wife, cuddle in bed, and descend back down the stairs to his hospital bed. His last Thanksgiving was not a feast of food, but rather a feast of love, as was his next and last week of life. He passed away on November 28, 2012.
He will always be remembered for his warmth and kindness, his keen interest in the lives of family and friends, his sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the world around us, and that special twinkle in his eyes. It is the hope of his family and friends that a cure will be found for this awful disease so that other people will not have to deal with these dreadful health challenges.
Thank you for your gift.