Faces of Parkinson's - Falling in Love With Parkinson's


Falling in Love With Parkinson's

Meet Rita Husmann-Chesnut. Rita was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1985 and attends the support group meetings at Florida Hospital Church. She is a native from Sverdlovsk, Siberia who immigrated to America in 1952. Rita was married for 48 years to Rolf Husmann and had 3 sons. Unfortunately, Rolf passed in 2003 so Rita adjusted to a content single life. Little to her surprise God had another plan in store for her.

While attending the Parkinson support group meetings she began to meet others who shared similar life experiences. Rita found comfort and strength from the group members who supported her journey. One day she heard of a gentleman who was a member of the Elk’s Lodge who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Rita reached out to him to see if he would want to attend the support group meeting. He turned her down and said he would call her again another time.

True to his word, David Chesnut called her back and invited her to dinner. While the two of them were at dinner at the Elks Lodge, David talked about how he loved to travel, play golf and spending time with his friends. Rita enjoyed learning about him and explained how the support group meetings have helped her accept her illness. Noticing his trembling hands she instinctively reached out to grab his hands and lightening hit her. It was a miracle; God spoke to her and told her that she must take care of him.

Realizing the two needed one another she was reluctant, after all she had some struggles of her own and three years prior had lost her husband of 48 years. Rita felt such a strong connection to David who she can share her illness with someone who truly understands the struggles along with the disease. David felt the same connection and on their third date he asked Rita to marry him.  She said yes and their love continued to grow.

David and Rita did have a few hurdles to overcome including some differences when it came to eating. Rita was into borscht and blitzes, wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut  while David was a true southerner who loved fried food, chicken and dumplings, grits and bacon. David was a good sport and loved everything Rita prepared for him.

As their lives continued their families grew to 10 adults, 5 grand children, 9 grand puppies and numerous turtles. David’s health eventually got worse and Rita’s son Craig helped care for him to ease his discomfort. Unfortunately, on October 13, 2015 David passed peacefully. The two spent nine and a half beautiful years together enriching each other’s lives. Rita thanks God for the time they shared together. Pat Boone used to sing, “love is for the very young.” Rita disagrees and believes love is much better when you are older. The two had a strong love, a patient love all brought together by Parkinson’s.

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