April 10, 2013
My high school principal died of Parkinson's in 2012.
Dr. Kenneth Nye was just seventy, and had struggled for fifteen years with this disease.
Dr. Nye was a fine educator. Many a young Belisle graduated from Yarmouth High School having benefitted from his leadership. He was named Maine's Principal of the Year in 1993.
Despite his diagnosis, Dr. Nye lived his life fully and completely.
At age sixty, he became a poet. He published four books of poetry, one of which included the piece Going Home at Twilight:
Coming down the trail at twilight,
I am perilously close to
being stranded in darkness.
Earlier I had figured
I could ski the loop
before it got dark.
I was wrong.
But I know where I am,
and in the dwindling light
I see the trail, and the trail
will bring me home.
According to his obituary, Dr. Nye enjoyed, "crafting pewter soldiers, his favorite toys from childhood. His love of gardening, bird-watching, travel, literature, tractors, riddle/joke/storytelling, swimming, sailing, ice cream, musicals, etc., kept him engaged in life to the last."
Dr. Nye was a vibrant, intelligent man. It seemed particularly ironic that a disease of the brain and nervous system would prove his undoing.
People like Ken Nye remind us that Parkinson's Disease, though yet incurable, can be managed better, longer, by staying active.
Here in Maine, we are fortunate to have researchers such as Dr. James Cavanaugh from the University of New England examining the relationship between Parkinson's and physical activity.
We are equally fortunate to have places such as the Medically Oriented Gym in South Portland, offering settings where Parkinson's patients can exercise in a supervised setting.
Sometimes the simplest approaches to healing yield the best, and least expensive, results.
Sometimes, although we may feel that we are stranded in the darkness, we need only go back to basics, to find that we know where we are.
Dr. Kenneth Nye always knew where he was. He knew that he was meant to engage fully during each of the seven decades he was given to live.
He also knew that in his twilight years, he was on the trail that would finally lead him home.
Hear our interview with Dr. James Cavanaugh and Jacalyn Morrill of the Medically Oriented Gym this Sunday on the Dr. Lisa Radio Hour & Podcast. Download the podcast through iTunes.