Imagine for a moment living a life where your every waking and sleeping day is controlled by a disease. Defined by the need for assistance to do most anything. You love to go for long walks. But now you have to be pushed in a wheelchair. You love to garden, but now you have to wait for someone to help you bend down. You love to go to the beach and read a book, but now it is just too damn hard to walk through the sand and to sit without shaking, long enough to be able to read and turn the pages. You love to play the piano and sing. But now your fingers don’t respond like the used to and your voice is hard for others to understand. You simply love to cuddle up to your husband and feel the comfort and joy of physical love. Now you must sleep in different beds because of your irregular sleep patterns. Worst of all, you just love to eat. But now you are severely limited by what you can eat because it is just too hard to swallow. Now understand that you are only 50 years old and that you have already had this illness for almost 20 years. Most important, remember your mind is lucid, and you still have the spontaneity and adventurous spirit of a teenager that yearns to live life to the fullest.

You see the most amazing thing about my mom is that she never lost that spirit. Never. Not for a moment. Of all the people that had every right to be pessimistic, my mom remained the eternal optimist. She was just fun to be around. She never complained about her situation. She never made IT about her. And she was always happy to see you. Always smiling and excited when you talked and shared your stories with her. Always concerned that you had something to eat or drink, that you were comfortable. Always thrilled when you reminded her of her youthful days of revelry and cool cars and wild boys. Always ecstatic, when you shared your ice cream with her or when you brought her a chocolate malt. She just loved life. And we love her for it.
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Afflicted with Parkinson's Disease in 1972 at the young age of 33, mom dealt with the debilitating effects of the disease for over 30 years. In 1999, as the disease progressed and her condition worsened, dad thought it might be both therapeutic and enriching for her to rediscover some of her artistic interests. Two years later, having already secured representation through the Judy Saslow Gallery, mom exhibited regularly in Chicago.

Although mom’s decision to pursue her art was a personal one, she always hoped that her continued success would spread the message regarding the necessity and importance for continued research to help find a cure for Parkinson's Disease. In addition, she hoped that her rededication to painting, would demonstrate to other individuals afflicted by this disease or any other, that they should never give up doing those things that they love. Her art will always remain an inspiration to us all.

I think my friend said it best when he characterized mom’s condition as if she was in a prison for a crime she didn’t commit. I believe her painting “The Lady in the Cage” best symbolizes this idea.. It is a penetrating self-portrait completed a few years ago. mom sits restlessly next to her full palette of paints alone, but dressed to go out on the town. A beautiful tiger full of life and color sits peacefully alongside her. Yet both, full of potential and yearning to be free, are forever restricted by the bars of their individual worlds. How fitting for a woman who was trapped in a broken-down body but who never gave up her hope and desire and spirit to be free.

- Marc Paschke