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April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. I am quite aware I have Parkinson’s. I bet other twitchers are too.

What good does awareness do? Does it help the outstretched hands of non-profits? “Now that you’re aware of fill-in-the-blank will you write a check?”  Maybe.

Every day of every month someone is trying to make me aware of something through one campaign or another. And reassuring me that the price of this newfound, now essential awareness is a donation – any amount helps… $500 (or more) is suggested.

Frankly, the only people whose radar I’d like Parkinson’s Awareness Month to ping are doctors, researchers, scientists, drug developers and their brethren. To all of you, those of you who can turn awareness into research that potentially leads to more and better treatments for neurological ailments, I hope that you are aware of Parkinson’s Disease for all twelve months of the year.

Just in case these parkie statistics aren’t on the tip of your tongue, I’d like to make you aware that:

*About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease annually.
*Approximately 4% of them are younger than 50 (I was diagnosed right at 50)
*More than 10 million people worldwide have it
*Men are1.5 times more likely than women to have PD
*Parkies are more likely to develop melanoma than non-twitchers. The reverse is also true. Why? Well, researchers…

Awareness leads to more awareness which leads to more people calling themselves “woke”. Glad that you’re informed. So, what are you going to do to help now that your consciousness is woke?

I am ‘woke’ to the April showers that promise May flowers, and to the unique pollens that these blooms bring with them. I’m woke to the fact that springing forward makes me want to fall back into bed.

My eldest would have turned 40 this April had ketamine and careless friends not shuffled him off this mortal coil at 21. I am woke to that excruciating fact too. To 19 years of wondering what might’ve been, of questioning what I could’ve done, what I should’ve done instead of what I did do.

He was a talented guitarist and awkward performer, who played behind chin-length bangs parted in the middle by a huge smile when he was in that flow, the one only a good musician knows.

And now that you too are aware of this painful truth, of the child I couldn’t save from himself, of the wrenching drama of addiction of the divorce his downward spiral instigated — are any of us any better off?

What good is awareness, wokeness whatever the term of art du jour is – what good is any knowledge – unless it incites change?

How many months of awareness will make people woke? Is there a mathematical formula – say one seminar plus two relevant book club discussions give you six months of woke-ness? And what do we do for woke boosters?

What if there is nothing to be done no matter how aware, woke, generous or action oriented we are?

But there is always something to do. If not for my son, then for his brother or for my other children – maybe even for yours? I am aware nothing will bring my baby back, but I hope my efforts can help another from following his path. I know action abates the futility of the pain.

Regardless of what you do with it, once knowledge is acquired, cannot be unlearned. Facts, people, ideeas – no matter how abhorrent – cannot be cancelled.

When a judge asks a jury to strike something from the record, deny what their ears clearly heard even the most ardent rule followers amongst them will likely remember – one cannot “unhear” something. It’s the same with ideas, fashion trends – trust me, I have tried to “cancel” memories of how big the shoulder pads of my ‘80’s garb were – social mores. A rabbit never fits back in its hat.

If we could simply cancel the thoughts and ideas with which we disagree we would. But we can’t. No matter how many times you utter “Cancel the Klu Klux Klan,” even if you’re clicking the heels of your ruby slippers as you do so. The hatred underneath the sheets, like the garb and those who don it – will remain.

I am aware, I am woke. or so I like to think. Regardless of my level of enlightenment, I am conscious. I am above ground. I can take action.. I will use my hard-won knowledge to try to steady this world’s shaky hold on respectful debate, of listening to those with whom we disagree of doing more to support causes than donning a ribbon or repeating a slogan. Join me.

 

 

 

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