A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson's
by Jim Atwell
Publication Information Sheet
SCP Product #: SCP-0034
Retail Price: $17.95 - FREE economy shipping*
Physical: 204 pages; 5.25" x 8.00"; softcover; perfect binding
Pub. Date: August 2011
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Amazon Kindle: September 2011
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Upstate New York farmer and philosopher Jim Atwell has been living the dream life in Fly Creek since his retirement in 1993. His award-winning weekly newspaper columns about rural life and his past as a teaching monk, professor, and college administrator led to his successful first book, From Fly Creek: Celebrating Life in Leatherstocking Country (North Country Books, 2005). But his life took a dramatic turn in 2007 when he was forced to deal with a neurological disease diagnosed first as Parkinson’s, then as Parkinson’s Plus, and most recently as Parkinson’s: unknown. He has been told by his doctor that a positive diagnosis of this odd family of diseases is best done by autopsy — a strategy that Jim stoutly rejects.
This second collection of columns, Wobbling Home, is a deeply insightful meditation on his illness, his Christian faith, and his journey's end. Raised a Roman Catholic, Jim has been a Quaker for forty years. Viewing his life as a "Parkie" through the lens of Quakerism, he sees the disease as emanating from the same loving Source that gives him life — a Source which also manipulates his body and brain at random times and in mysterious ways. He shares not only his own thoughts and reactions, but also those of his loving wife Anne and other Parkies and their spouses as well. Interspersed with tales of daily life and ritual in one of New York's most bucolic small towns, Jim's writings are shot through with the warm humor that is a mark of his personality and his masterful style.
Book Preview (500KB PDF - Contents, Introduction)
"Grace is everywhere in the beautiful and poignant prose of Jim Atwell. This gifted storyteller recounts his grace-filled life with Parkinson's in this collection of stories. Atwell is attentive to the profundity of everyday life, and to God's presence and wisdom hidden in conversations with beloved friends, as well as in the bouts of pain and disorientation. Rollicking laughter, bittersweet tears and glimpses of glory: these are Atwell's gifts to his friends and readers."
Father Mark Michael, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Cooperstown
"Jim has taught me a lot about the "non-motor" symptoms of Parkinson's disease, the cognitive, perceptual, and emotional changes we doctors may not pick up on when we look for the physical signs of tremor, stiffness and slowness, which are the hallmark triad of Parkinson's. Jim tells us about Parkinson's "from the inside." This is a great gift for a neurologist to receive--and for patients, spouses, and care givers as well. After an appointment with Jim, I'm the one who feels much better!"
Paul M. Deringer, MD, Chief of Neurology
The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, NY
"Don't for a moment think this is a book about Parkinson's. It is so much more--a primer on life, a glimpse into a remarkable and resilient soul. All of us have wondered what we might do if faced with the challenge of a terminal illness. Jim Atwell used his disease as a gift, and shared it with us in this marvelous book. His legacy is found not just in those he loved, but between these covers, too. Each page is a witness to wisdom, pluck, and good humor. When it comes my time to wobble home, I hope I do it as well as Jim Atwell."
Philip Gulley, author of The Evolution of Faith
"Wobbling Home wryly and gently portrays Jim Atwell’s “joint venture” with Parkinson’s disease in a personal, candid and positive manner. A profound appreciation of life and its vagaries, not the disease itself, is found in the many stories, anecdotes and observations in the book. The lens through which Jim looks at his life is neither rose-colored nor clouded by his illness. In the book, as a Quaker observer and recorder of all things, Jim brings an honest, peaceful and insightful view of his world and that of others, always with a gentle humor, often self-deprecating, and inevitably with a sense of deep appreciation for life, friendship and love. It helps, too, that with his words, he is a fluid and comfortable limner of our world."
Dr. William Streck, President and Chief Executive Officer
Bassett Healthcare Network
"In this latest collection of Jim Atwell's fine articles we are privileged to accompany him on his spiritual journey. Even more, as we walk beside him we quickly realize that this is no free-floating spiritual journey through the realms of ideas and imagination, but rather a real world journey through the real life of a small upstate New York community. Jim teaches us that life in Fly Creek, and in communities like it, is sometimes a hardscrabble one, sometimes a beautifully pastoral one, but always one worth living, despite the obstacles that are put in our way. In the end, the reader will thank Jim for his lessons and for allowing us to be his companion as we wobble home together."
Rev. Thomas Pullyblank, Pastor, Fly Creek Methodist Church
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- 08/17/2011 - Publication & Book Launch Announcement
About the Author
A Maryland native, Jim Atwell spent thirteen years as a Catholic teaching monk in the Christian Brothers religious order. In 1969, he returned to life as a layman and took a faculty position at Anne Arundel Community College near his hometown of Annapolis. In his twenty-three years at the College, he served as assistant, associate, and full professor, and as chairman, dean, and Vice President for Academic Affairs. In retirement, he is an emeritus member of the Anne Arundel faculty. His personal spiritual development now marks him as being a practicing Quaker for forty years.
Jim owes his deep love of Upstate New York to his late first wife Gwen, who grew up near Cooperstown. After her death in 1989, he moved north to start life again in the 18th-century farmhouse they had bought for a retirement home. In 1997 Jim remarried; he and Anne Geddes-Atwell still make their home in Fly Creek, raising sheep and chickens, and pursuing writing and graphic design, respectively.
Jim’s award-winning weekly columns in Cooperstown’s two weekly papers have been a regional institution for a dozen years. They are followed by thousands of readers in print, and thousands more on The Cooperstown Crier website. The New York State Press Association has recognized his writing eight times with awards for content and style. Newspaper writing led to a recent anthology of his columns, From Fly Creek: Celebrating Life in Leatherstocking Country, published by North Country Books in 1995.
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