Wednesday Night at the Prison

February 17         As I look at this picture I remember how very sacred that moment was.  I held in my hand 3 heart shaped rocks for the three men I love the most in this world;  Charlie, Loren and Luke.  I carried those rocks with me from home, and left them there at the Cruz de Ferro, one important  location pilgrims pass while walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.    Its a bit of a burden to carry that extra weight, and a relief to leave your stones and the burden they represent at the foot of the cross.   

Tonight, my journeys took me to a classroom sized chapel in a medium security prison not far from my home. Clearance had been obtained in advance and the volunteer coordinator was there to greet me and assist me through the metal detector (where shoes, belt and glasses had to be removed before the alarm would stop) and helped me complete other check in procedures.  She read me a statement about my expected behavior as a visitor and of the the possible risks involved in visiting this facility. Then we  passed through security checks and doors until  we were outside, walking across an open area to enter the building holding the chapel. After clearing two more security doors we turned down a  long wide hallway of highly polished cement.  I thought to myself  “walk in the middle where the  cameras can keep a close eye on you” and recalled my previous visit to this prison  and to other correctional facilities in the area.   We entered the last door and waited in a smaller hallway while the Baptist service came to completion. I watched the security procedures as one congregation left and the other entered and prepared the room for the next service.  I felt safe, even comfortable trusting  that any one of these men would protect me should an incident occur during my visit.

Why was I here on Wednesday February 17?  I was invited to participate in this week’s   Mass  by the men of the Catholic bible study.  They know many things about me.  You see, my husband has been participating in the bible study as a religious volunteer for 16 years. He often shares bits of home life with the men. So they know about my travels and also my struggles with Parkinson’s Disease. In anticipation of my upcoming DBS surgery  they requested to pray for me in person. How could I refuse!

Taking a seat, I folded my hands and placed my thumbs to make a cross,  as I did when I held the rocks.  The room filled with male voices singing hymns and chanting the prayers of the Mass in English, Latin and even some  Greek. The men prayed for each other, for families, for those without families, for the sick, for those in isolation.  Then, Father asked them to raise their hands and pray over me as he spoke a blessing.

At the completion of the final hymn, each man came to greet me.  One by one they offered words of encouragement and hope and promises of prayers during my surgery and recovery.  These men, who had turned to God since their incarceration, made this moment and this place sacred. With their gentle souls and contrite hearts they now lift my heart and my being in prayer.

We left the chapel area as the last of the men were getting a “pat down” check by the officers.  The walk in the highly polished cement floor hallway seemed shorter.  Soon we were outdoors and I breathed in the brisk night air and felt the chill wind against my face.

I was free.  The high walls, the razor wire on top of fences, the locked doors were behind me.  But the Sacred moment, no, that wasn’t back in the prison chapel.  The men had given me that gift to take with me.

Published by Carol Clupny, author The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman's Remarkable Journey with Parkinson's Disease

I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson's Disease. When I was first diagnosed I spent a lot of time researching the disease. Seeing a video of a man in the advanced stages of the disease attempting to get out of his chair and then "freezing" as he tried to walk across the room got me off my butt and moving. Great adventures on the Camino de Santiago and with TEAM Pedaling for Parkinson's across IOWA, as well as the day to day adventures of life have lead me to writing. My first novel, a memoir, was published early 2019. It is called, you got it THE RIBBON OF ROAD AHEAD. Living with the degenerative neurological disease Parkinson's, ULTREIA is a word that guides me. I have chosen it as the name of my business ULTREIA BOOKS. It comes from Latin and old French and means "unfailing courage". In the old days, pilgrims would call "Ultreïa" to each other as encouragement "Go up, go further!" Nowadays we would say "You can do this thing". It takes courage to live with Parkinson's. May I face each day with unfailing courage. Ab Here is more about me; I was living an active lifestyle riding horses, hiking, climbing and snow skiing when at age fifty she was diagnosed with Parkinsons. Retiring from her career as a speech-language pathologist she decided to “take to the road” to battle the disease. Her first steps, walking out her door to the mailbox, lead to trekking over 1000 miles of pilgrimage trails on the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. A dusty bike discovered in the garage resulted in four rides on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with the Pedaling for Parkinsons Team. These adventures inspired her to write a memoir The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey with Parkinson’s Disease. Carol blogs about her everyday life as a middle-aged woman in the mid-stages of Parkinson’s disease. Her honest, humorous and casual narrative style brings the reader to an intimate understanding of Carol’s resilience and acceptance. Her blog, sharing the name of her book ”The Ribbon of Road Ahead” can be found at www.ultreiablog.org After completing a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from Eastern Washington University Carol received certification in School Leadership and Administration from Lewis and Clark College. She provided speech pathology services and was a program director for 32 years in the wide geographic expanse of eastern Oregon. Active in the Oregon Speech-Language and Hearing Association she received honors of the association and the presidential award for her work on recruitment and retention of speech and hearing professionals. Carol presented numerous papers and projects at local, state and regional professional conferences. She was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to two terms of the Oregon Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the state’s licencing and consumer protection agency. Since her diagnosis in 2008, Carol has become active in the Parkinson’s Community as an advocate, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and support group facilitator for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. She was appointed the regional patient representative for the Parkinson's Foundation’s Women with PD TALK study. In September of 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation selected Carol to participate in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC. As an attendee at the World Parkinson Congress in 2016 in Portand, Oregon, Carol presnted a poster session examining the decision making process for patients considering deep brain stimulaiton. At the 2019 WPC in Kyoto, Japan she presented a poster on vision concerns of women with PD and lead small group discussions. Her book The Ribbon of Road Ahead has provided many speaking opportunities for Carol. In 2019 and early 2020 she visited 24 support groups in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to share her thoughts on living well with the disease. In addition, she has presented talks for The Center on Aging in San Francisco, Parkinson's Place in Las Vegas, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation in Richland WA and virtually through their HOPE online program. In late 2020 she rejuvenated her voice and narrated her book. It became available as an audio book in 2021. As part of this project she read stories over the airwaves on RadioParkies Australia with DJ Madonna and in Great Britain with DJ Johnny Parky. She and her husband Charlie have two adult sons. They live on a small hobby farm in eastern Oregon. Contact Information: Carol Clupny PO BOX 128, Hermiston, OR 97838 caclupny@gmail.com (541) 720-4256

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