Shake With Me: One Family’s PD Journey
In this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, I talk with filmmaker Zack Grant, the driving force behind the Parkinson’s documentary, “Shake with Me.” The thirty-minute film was originally intended to document how Parkinson’s impacted and inspired Zack’s mom, Debra Magid, to return to her fine art roots and begin to paint bold, colorful, big-eyed, portraits. It turned into an intimate, authentic time capsule, capturing moments and conversations as a family wrestles with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Debra was diagnosed in 2012. She decided to keep the Parkinson’s a secret from her kids. Debra explains her decision in the film, noting Zack was already out of the house, but his sister Elizabeth was still living at home. Debra said, “I was afraid if she thought I was sick that she wouldn’t even go to college. That she wouldn’t launch.”
About a year later, Elizabeth found her Mom’s medication hidden in a drawer and that secret was out. The other secret Debra was keeping was that the Parkinson’s was motivating her to paint again. As a college student, she was an aspiring product designer and had a passion for fine air. Her diagnosis triggered that passion again. “What I’ve been doing is drawing faces, interpreting what the face is, and what I see in it. Kinda of telling a bit of a story.” Debra continues, “I do feel lucky to have found such a strong voice this late in life. I think Parkinson’s is like a little bird sitting on your shoulder going, ‘tick-tock, tick-tock.’ Time is going and don’t waste what you have.”
After explaining the diagnosis to her family, it would be several more years until Debra was comfortable sharing the Parkinson’s diagnosis with everyone in her life and eventually everyone in the world through Zack’s film. “The film was supposed to be this very small piece about the juxtaposition of her art, her diagnosis and her changing health,” said Zack. At some point, he says the family realized it was much more than that, “There was this desire to have these conversations about how Parkinson’s has affected our family.” The film touches on advancing symptoms, decisions to take more and different drugs, the struggle of who to tell, when to tell them and how Parkinson’s impacts everyone in the family, not just the individual diagnosed.
Today, Zack, Debra and the family are more open and honest with each other, because of the experiences they shared in making film. For Zack, the film has refocused his career, “I think this film was a really ambitious way of trying to get in touch with my feelings around Parkinson’s. Now I am in this place artistically where I want to do more personal stories. And in fact, I don’t want to touch anything that I can’t find a personal way in to.”
The film “Shake with Me,” is available for small group screenings, film festivals and for free download on Vimeo.
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Thank you to our special guests:
Zack Grant, Debra’s son and filmmaker. This is the official website for shakewithmefilm.com
Debra Magid, for sharing her Parkinson’s story and her art. Check out her website www.DebraMagid.com .
Jim Grant, Debra’s husband
Elizabeth Grant, Debra’s Daughter
Our presenting partner is Parkinson Canada http://www.parkinson.ca/
The toll free hotline 1-800-565-3000
Follow them on Twitter @ParkinsonCanada
Find the new Parkinson Clinical Guideline www.parkinsonclinicalguideline.ca
Thanks also to our content and promotional partners
Parkinson’s IQ + You– A free, series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation
Spotlight YOPD – The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease and funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.