On June 3, 1888, “Casey at the Bat” was first published by the San Francisco Examiner, on June 3, 1925, the Goodyear airship “Pilgrim” made its first flight, and on June 3, 1932, Lou Gehrig was the first player to hit four consecutive home runs. Most importantly, in Michigan on June 3, 1935, Davidean A. Pelletier was born.
Davidean was my Grandma. She was a gloriously stubborn woman who spent most of her life going five million miles per hour just to accomplish more tasks before it was time to go to bed so, she could wake up and start all over again. Grandma Dee did and went. She grew up on a dairy farm so Grandma loved butter, whole milk, cream and eggs. Davidean’s favorite foods were German chocolate cake and eggs and bacon. Toast was not served with butter, but huge slabs of salted butter were piled on white toasted bread until the bread couldn’t be seen anymore.
Davidean raised five kids, helped build their family home, played cards, socialized, volunteered in the community, worked part time and helped out when her grandchildren were too lazy to walk to school. Grandma Dee drove a yellow and black moped, she square danced with Papa (my Grandpa), and she could sew just about anything including the costumes required for the square dancing. Davidean baked and cooked her way through every Sunday family meal, holiday meal and special event, at which attendance was not optional.
The only problem was, that Grandma Dee was sick. Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) “is a neurodegenerative brain disease that has no known cause, treatment or cure and it affects nerve cells that control walking, balance, mobility, vision, speech, and swallowing.” Davidean had PSP and it slowly started to show its symptoms, but everyone thought that Grandma Dee was just a really terrible driver. When things started to get more serious doctors decided on a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. PSP is so rare with only 5 people out of 100,000 developing symptoms and PSP is more common in men than woman, it’s even difficult for neurologists to recognize. #curepsp
Grandma Dee was eventually moved from her home to a nursing home and it took a long time for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease to fall away. After the PSP diagnosis was made our family went in to hyperdrive researching this monster that had taken our stubborn, funny, giving person away. PSP felt like a ridiculous joke. Davidean would forget, become easily impatient, and rude to staff. On many occasions she fell because she simply did not want to wait for help. Slowly Grandma Dee lost her ability to walk, see, swallow, and talk. #pspsucks
We did the best we could to keep Grandma Dee happy. We visited, a lot. We Skyped with family on her gigantic television so she could hear, we talked and talked and talked. We employed Hospice. We read her books about dogs and farming. We fed her yogurt, rice pudding, chocolate pudding and thickened water. We brought our dogs over so she could rest her hand on their heads. We listened to her favorite music on Pandora. In the end it was the PSP monster that won, but we all knew that it would. #ihatepsp
After her death last November, Davidean’s brain was donated to CurePSP, the same organization that gave us the information to understand what on Earth was going on inside Grandma Dee’s brain. A pathologist gave us a definitive diagnosis of PSP, which we knew, but we took comfort in, because Davidean’s brain went to the foundation that is going to someday help find a cure for this monster. #pspmonster
Today on Davidean’s birthday you can help simply by being aware of PSP. Visit the Foundation For PSP for all of the information about progressive supranuclear palsy and the symptoms and signs that might be hiding someplace in your world. Today I’m going to eat egg and bacon sandwiches, play tunk with Mr. MVP and put way too much butter on everything I eat. Happy Birthday Grandma!