Parkinson’s disease robbed my mother of everything…almost everything

Crystal Senter-Brown
3 min readAug 11, 2021


Photo by Stormseeker on Unsplash

When I was a little girl, I had a VERY unhealthy fear of angels.



So if I was afraid of angels with their soft white wings and a direct line to my Heavenly Father, imagine what else I was afraid of growing up! These unsubstantiated fears caused me to have anxiety unnecessarily.

My mother was always careful not to give me too much to do at one time, and she was also hyper-aware of how I was FEELING- most of the time without a word from me!

Over the years I have been better able to manage my stress and anxiety and I have also been able to spend time with my mother during my stressful times, even if it was just via phone. I could always count on her to bring my nervous energy back down.

Mama, Jerome (my brother and also the person responsible for making me afraid of angels) and Me, 1980, Morristown, TN

But it was not until the pandemic that I began to notice my mother disconnecting during our conversations.

Even if I mentioned something bad happened to me, or someone said something mean to me, she would not ask more about it. Each time I would leave the visit feeling more sad than the visit before.

It was then I realized what I was feeling: This year was the first time in my 46 years of life when I felt motherless.

It sounds crazy, right?

But that is how I felt.

After a full year of biweekly Covid tests, vaccines with ever-changing effectiveness rates, and wearing masks everywhere, every day, my stress levels have been off the charts (and I know I am not alone.)

Yesterday, I stopped to see mom and as soon as I walked in she mouthed the words: “what’s wrong?“ (Her voice is almost gone due to Parkinson’s paralyzing the muscles in her throat).

“What do you mean?” I asked her as I sat down next to her.

Slowly, she raised her right hand and pointed at me: “Calm down.”

She then took my hand in hers and suddenly I was five years old again getting ready for my first ballet recital at the Rose Center.

Mama getting me ready for my first recital at the Rose Center

And I felt seen.


At peace.


But most of all?


I did not have to say a single word after that. She just held my hand and my stress melted away.

When our parents become ill, our first instinct is to “not bother” them- especially if they are in assisted living or even a nursing home.

But the reality is, parenting is one of the only jobs we can literally do until our last breath.

My mother was silent, but her heart was aligned with mine.

If your parents are still here, I encourage you be more intentional about allowing them to parent you.

Can you visit and ask them to show you how to bake their favorite cake?

Can you watch yet another episode of Little House on the Prairie or Bananza?

Can you take them to an outdoor concert of the music from their youth?

If your parent is sick, they can STILL parent. Let them hold your hand. Let them smooth your hair down because it “looks wild”.

As the mother of a 28 year old who recently relocated I can tell you first hand: we are THRILLED to love on our children, no matter how “grown” they are.

I pray you are having a peaceful and productive week! Let’s Get Sentered.