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Dennis D. Parker was born on July 10, 1937, in Elmira, Michigan, and lived his life in Michigan, New Jersey, Arizona, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri. He was married for over 52 years to the same woman, and raised five children. He was an accomplished businessperson, an innovative entrepreneur, and a dedicated family man.
An accomplished drummer, Dennis played drums with the George Minto quintet in Detroit and taught drum lessons. He passed his love of drumming onto his children, and his grandchildren. Dennis loved music…especially jazz and classical music. His favorite classical composer was Rimsky Korsakov. He also loved hearing the bagpipes and you could always see him at drum and bugle corps shows, cheering on his favorite corps, The Blue Devils.
Dennis was also car enthusiast and an amazing mechanic. As a young man, he built a 1940 Ford C-Gasser and raced it at the Detroit Dragway. He ended up driving the car in the Indy 500 drag finals and won a trophy. Later on in life, you could always find him tinkering under the hood of a car, fixing something or another (usually for his family’s benefit!). Even today, the garage is filled with an auto mechanics dream tools!
I am Dennis’ oldest daughter. During his retirement, my dad decided to write a book. His inscription in my original manuscript, dated December 2002, noted that he intended to add to the book, and write more books. Sadly, on February 17, 2014, at the age of 76, he passed away, from complications of a neurodegenerative disease called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). It was his desire that we publish A Star In The Window, which is why you are reading this.
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is a terminal illness for which there is no cure. Life expectancy is 5 – 7 years and I believe my father had this disease from 2007 until he died. It is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease, because some of the symptoms are closely related. This is what happened with my dad. In 2012, after multiple visits to neurologists, we were referred to a neurologist that specialized in Parkinson’s Disease, along with other neurodegenerative diseases, and were given the awful news that my dad had PSP, a rare brain disorder that affected gait and balance, along with complex eye movement and thought processes. Worst of all, there was no cure and no way to stop its progression. For our family, it was like being on a runaway train. No way to stop it. Helpless. We raced to try anything that seemed like it could slow everything down. Botox treatments to keep Dad’s eyes from closing all the time and stop the constant rigidity in his neck. Physical therapy to keep up the muscle tone in his arms and legs so he could continue to be mobile. Dopamines to keep him steady and help him stay mobile. All of these were only minor and sometimes futile attempts to somehow get ahead of his worsening symptoms and give him some quality of life.
We managed to keep my dad walking until August of 2013, when he became ill with an infection, which took every bit of strength out of him. This strong, tough and brilliant man who was my father left the hospital in a wheelchair, unable to do the most basic things. Unable to care for him at home anymore, and with his blessing, we found an assisted living facility for him where he would be able to get round the clock care. We visited him every day, knowing that this would be a severe lifestyle change for him. Mom was there every day and all of his kids came to be with him on various days of the week. No matter what he was going through, he always had a smile for us. It must have been so terrible for him to live inside a body that was betraying him and robbing him of everything he loved. But you hardly knew the pain he went through.
Six months after moving to the assisted living facility, on February 17, 2014, he passed away with all of his family around him. Finally, he was free from the chains of this horrible disease.
The profits from the sale of A Star In The Window will be donated to organizations like CurePSP, in efforts to find a cure. If you would like to know more about PSP and other neurodegenerative disorders, or you would like to make a private donation, visit the website for CurePSP or contact them by mail at this address:
30 E. Padonia Road, Suite 201
Timonium, MD 21093
Editing and publishing this book has been an honor for me, but working with my dad on the stories that he wrote allowed me to understand him on a deeper level, and that is truly a gift that I will always treasure.