The JF&CS Parkinson's Community Quilt
Written by: Donna Smerlas

Parkinson's Quilt squareThis quilt square both commemorates and honors my father, Constantine "Charlie" Smerlas, who passed away on July 20, 2010 from complications from Parkinson's disease. Diagnosed in 2003, he did not experience its effects until three years later. While Parkinson's was a presence in his life, he never allowed the disease to define who he was.

My dad lived a rich and fulfilling life. For more than 87 years, he blessed us with his wisdom, understanding, compassion, warmth, generosity, spirit, humor, and especially his smile and positive attitude. Understanding life is precious, he savored each day.

This square highlights some of what meant most to my Dad. The photo shows him, smiling his smile, holding a birthday cake sent to him by his commanding officer, General Mark W. Clark. My Dad lost his own father in 1941 at the age of 17 and he always told us General Clark became a surrogate father to him. The tomatoes and roses framing the photo represent his lifelong love of gardening, his primary pursuit following retirement after 55 years as a fruit and vegetable peddler. The wine bottle and chocolate represent two things my Dad enjoyed the most – drinking wine and eating chocolate!

My participation in the 2008 Adult Child of a Parent with Parkinson's program and now this project has been invaluable to me. The former increased my understanding of Parkinson's, making me a more effective caregiver, and the latter provided an opportunity to lessen my sadness at the loss of my Dad by celebrating his life.

Read other blog posts about the JF&CS Parkinson's Community Quilt.

The JF&CS Parkinson's Community Quilt is an initiative of the JF&CS Parkinson's Family Support program.