Creative Inspirational Wisdom: My Parkinson’s Muse

This week, Linda A. Mohr shares how a diagnosis brought a desire to write poetry.


 

Lexie Lee

I was like a graduate student researching primary sources. The starting point was the end—my poetry collection to uncover what inspires me. As I reviewed content, the answer slid into nature, objects and grief categories.

 

I started writing poetry in 2013 after attending a haiku lecture at the North Palm Beach Library.  The myriad of sensory delights while vacationing at the Missouri family farm inspired me to create over fifty haiku poems in two weeks. Bobwhite, amber wheat, alfalfa bale, honeysuckle, cockle bur, sweet pea tendrils and tasseled corn images along with chirp, chatter, squawk, screech and meow sounds found poetic expression. My first prose poem, “The Rocking Chair,” was created on the same trip in response to an empty lawn chair swaying to and fro. I imagined my spiritual mother visiting her homestead, and we were rocking side by side in conversation. The companion chair sits vacant. Or is it?

 

During this time frame, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. A fascinating twist of this progressive neurological movement disorder is creativity. Research studies find some patients suddenly begin a new art pursuit such as painting or sculpting or become more prolific in writing books. Although I published a memoir in 2008 and maintained a blog, poetry was not in my toolbox. Perhaps it was coincidental, but without formal education in poetry, I simply wrote about what touched my heart.

 

Intrigued by how my mother’s medical alert system talked to her in response to buttons being pushed, I wrote “The Magic Button” poem. More than anything I wanted the machine to answer my question. My mother is in heaven. I want to talk to her. What button do I push?

 

On an autumn trip to Lake Toxaway in North Carolina, my cabin was surrounded by trees showing and shedding their beauty. As I sat on the deck and watched leaves in various shapes and sizes falling in different ways, the leaves reminded me of people. Later I spread the dried reminders out on a table and created “Fallen Leaves, Fallen Lives” poem. Doubled over leaf drops, Mottled and worn out.

 

After the devastating loss of my beloved Maine Coon, I penned “Morning Visitor” poem. She had a unique way of communicating (including Lexie Lee’s Meowlogue) in life, so I was certain she would send me a message in spirit. She did not disappoint! Unexplained lightness on bed. Spot where you use to snuggle.

 

The most astounding outpouring of poetry occurred when I was on a long flight to Portland, Oregon in 2016 to attend a Parkinson’s Congress. Fourteen poems on loss, death and grief relating to my boyfriend’s passing twenty-seven years ago were created. Two by two they came. Carrying food trays.

 

Although more study is needed on Parkinson’s and creativity, I am grateful for whatever force drives me to write poetry. The results of creating over fifty prose poems in four years, winning awards, being published, and studying under presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco bring a smile to my masked Parkinson’s face.

 


Linda A. Mohr of Boca Raton Branch NLAPW is author of award-winning Tatianna—Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend. Her poetry, essays and Catnip Connection blog have received Cat Writers’ Muse Medallions and Pen Women awards. Essays have appeared in five anthologies, including Thin Threads—Women and Friendship and The Light Between Us. She studied under presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco at Omega Institute. Poetry can be found in laJoie, River Poets Journal and The Light Within. When not writing, she runs an eBay business, teaches strategic planning and collects brooches while living well with Parkinson’s and felines. Her website is http://www.lindamohr.com/.

Photo provided by Linda Mohr

OUR GUEST BLOGGING SERIES WILL END ON OCTOBER 13th. Submissions for the series are now closed. We thank all Pen Women who submitted work for our Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business guest blogger series. We look forward to giving an update on the status of Creative Genius at Work, an anthology that will include posts from these two series, soon.

Comments

  1. Barb Whitmarsh says:

    LEXIE LOOKS LIKE MY LATE MAINE COON CAT “KITTY CARLISLE”
    NAMED AFTER MY MA’S COLLEGE BUD AT HUNTER. NY.
    CARLISLE RAN THE SHOW. CATS ARE AMAZING.
    THANKS,
    B.W.

    • Barb, What an interesting name! Yes, cats run the show in my experience. Lexie Lee spent a good part of her life hanging out in my home office. I had custom window ledges made just for her so she would be comfortable! As I type this response my cat Chauncey is sleeping on the desk with his head toward me and six inches from the side of the computer! I do not even dare to move him off the stack of papers! Thank you for reading my post and for sharing Kitty Carlisle.

  2. Sara Etgen-Baker says:

    Linda–thank you from the depth of my heart for your sharing your outpouring of creativity. You’ve inspired me! I did so like “which button do I push.” Wish I had that button so I could visit my mother. Her creativity for music and for creating works of art in quilts never diminished despite her illness (diabetes and neuropathy) that blinded her and gave her such physical pain. She forged on, though, driven by the beauty that is creativity.

    • Sara, Your portrayal of your mother inspires me! I hope you have at least one quilt that your mother created. Quilts are indeed works of art and it is a tangible way for you to visit with your mother. The Magic Button poem is a favorite. I can still see in my mind where that machine sat on the kitchen counter and hear the voice that came out of it every morning to welcome my mother to a new day. Thank you for reading my post and for sharing your mother’s spirited determination.