Tag Archives: inspiration

I’ve got Parkinson’s Disease – so why am I still laughing?

19 Jan

Bob Monkhouse never lost his brilliant sense of humour right up to his dying day. And the late, great comedian’s legacy of laughter taught me a lesson I plan to utilise every waking hour from now on.

Because life is too short to be taken over-seriously. Even by a Grumpy Old Gran.

To most people under 40, the aches and pains of advancing years don’t exist. But take it from me, kids, old age is gonna getcha – and quicker than you think! (Though it doesn’t hurt quite so much out here in the sunshine).

There’s a fair chance you’ll end up a stooped old wrinkly shuffling your way along the streets and causing irritating queues in the newsagents as you fumble for change. And then drop your purse on the floor for someone else to pick up.

I know all about it – because I’m heading towards the world of zimmer frames myself. And it’s not pleasant.

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with angina and had two stents inserted in an angioplasty procedure to widen my coronary arteries. Now I have been told by a neurologist that I also have the beginnings of Parkinson’s Disease.

Not very pleasant, but millions of people are in far worse health than I, and hopefully I will be around for a good few years yet. I have also found a true inspiration in the unique humour of Bob Monkhouse.

Like him, I believe that the best antidote to illness and the negativity of ageing is laughter. The Monkhouse School of Mirth may not cure major ailments, but a good giggle does make even the Grumpiest of Grans feel a lot better.

When Bob knew he was dying from prostate cancer, he not only kept smiling – he incorporated it into his act.

Back in the ‘70s, I was lucky enough to see him perform live at a major London hotel function. Until then, I had always regarded him as rather smarmy and insincere, but I realised that evening that I was watching a true genius strutting his stuff.

Not long before he died in December 2003, and still looking amazingly fit despite his advanced cancer, Monkhouse quipped on Michael Parkinson‘s chat show that he had asked his doctor: ‘’How long have I got to live?’’

”Ten,’’ said the doctor.

”Is that weeks, months…?’’

”Nine, eight, seven…’’

That wisecrack reignited my belief that when old age and/or illness strike, the most effective way to fight it is to have a little giggle about life, however difficult that may be.

I half expected Monkhouse to throw in a line about his unique ‘’sense of tumour’’. He didn’t – but there’s a fair bet he is up there in his celestial home right now haranguing St Peter with his one-liners.

In the meantime, I have told my kids and grandkids I want to hear them singing at my funeral, not being just plain miserable. Perhaps a couple of choruses of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Deathwill help – not that I’ll be able to join in, of course.

Meanwhile, life goes on for me, my angina and my Parkinson’s, with semi-permanent backache and painful hip joints thrown in as a bonus. But I’m happy because I spend most of my time in the Spanish sunshine.

I can also see a new career on the horizon. If the Parkinson’s gets any worse, they might yet give me my own chat show…

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