a thousand words Beyond the Hill

Jesse Osbourne

Every day, he prays the rosary at 7:30 a.m.

“He used to say it four times a day, but now he can’t concentrate as long,” Martha Elder said about her husband, John.

He suffers from Parkinson’s disease. John used to dance, hunt and farm. Now he’s homebound. Martha has stayed with him, giving up her social life and her responsibilities in the community.

Parkinson’s disease has caused John to have muscle twitches and poor circulation. Sometimes at night he hallucinates. Lately he’s been seeing a man with a long needle that pokes him throughout the night. Martha thinks he sees that because of the poor circulation in his legs and arms feeling like needles.

“It feels like your hand or leg fell asleep,” she said.

John has remained a faithful man through his suffering. Along with praying the rosary, he mumbles a prayer before every meal. No one is allowed to eat until he does.

“Sometimes he says it fast if he’s hungry,” Martha said.

The couple’s wedding picture hangs on the wall across from John’s bed. A smiling, young couple beams at the opportunities that lie ahead of them. John, deteriorating but dignified, has lived through the opportunity with Martha and is coming to the end of it. The beginning of a life and the endurance of a relationship is summarized in a single room by a wedding picture and a man afflicted.

Jesse Osbourne is a junior photojournalism major from Lebanon. He can be reached at [email protected]