Faces in the Crowd – Taking The Hit

Posted on October 13, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment

peter-davison

 

“Getting a Parkinson’s diagnosis at the age of 45 was a gift. It changed my attitude about being loved. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Meet Peter Davison.

Peter and his two sisters were raised in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Like most small towns, there were upsides and downsides. “You never had to lock your home or bicycle. But everybody knew your dog’s name and what kind of milk you drank.”

His mother was a teacher and a social worker and his dad was an electrician and a man who could do anything with his hands. In addition to providing a nurturing home, his parents taught valuable lessons about being community minded and having high ethical standards.

After completing high school, Peter ventured off to King’s College in Halifax without the faintest idea of what he wanted to do. After his third year, he decided to take off to Europe to “find himself”, a popular pursuit during that era. While lying on a beach in Portugal, he came to the conclusion that teaching was in his blood. He returned to university and completed his studies, earning a B. Ed from Mt. St. Vincent University. His first teaching assignment was at his old Junior High School. It was odd being in the staff room with teachers who had taught him a scant few years before.

He spent a year teaching in Ontario before returning to Halifax. Over the years he developed and offered conflict resolution workshops for other teachers. The Montreal Massacre in 1989 was a seminal event for Peter. He became involved with the “ Men For Change” movement which promoted positive, healthy masculinity. He helped develop a teacher’s guide entitled “Healthy Relationships: A Violence Prevention Curriculum” which spread beyond Nova Scotia to places like California and Northern Ireland. He travelled often to do presentations for other teachers and professionals who worked with young children.

During this time he became a peace activist.

For a number of years, Peter worked on a Provincial Government program called, “Family Violence Prevention Initiative.” The work was emotionally draining and at the end of one particularly stressful and exhausting week, he fell asleep on the beach at White Point Beach Lodge. When he woke he spotted a derelict lobster trap that he took home to remind him that, in order to help others, he needed to look after himself.

From 2000-2014, he did training and motivational speaking. In 2005, at the age of 45, Peter noticed that he was having difficulty completing simple tasks like writing and brushing his teeth. He received the devastating news that he had Parkinson’s disease. How could this have happened to someone who had run marathons, never consumed alcohol nor smoked, and had hiked to base camp at Mt. Everest?

He kept the diagnosis from family and friends for a year. In 2006, he attended the Stan Rogers festival in Canso where he met an acquaintance from his past. Eighteen years earlier, he had criticized Andrea, a friend at the time, for wearing leather pants. “I was a self-righteous activist when I knew her before.” They rekindled an old flame and in short order, Peter told her about his health. They married the following July:  07/07/07 at 7:00 p.m.! In 2008, they adopted an infant. Hanna was joined by a brother, Vance, who was born in 2011.

Around 2012, Peter noticed that he was starting to have issues with voice control.   Two years later, he decided that his public speaking days were over. He refocused his energy and transferred his significant talents to his wife’s business as a marketer.

While he may have lost his ability to speak the way he once did, he did not lose his voice. He discovered that there were many people in situations similar, and in some cases, worse than his. He began to document these stories about how ordinary people react when they received “the hit”.  He recently published his first book called “The Gift of The Hit”, which tells the remarkable stories of people who have experienced a cancer diagnosis, ALS, car accident, blindness, sexual abuse and much more. (You can read about it here: www.giftofthehit.com )

“My kids bring me back into the present when I start to worry about the future. They keep me grounded and in the moment.”

His life is filled with love and laughter in spite of the challenges he faces on a daily basis. Somehow Parkinson’s has changed his life in a very positive way.

Keep “the hits” coming, Peter!

 

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Comments

One Response to Faces in the Crowd – Taking The Hit

  1. Ron Jessulat says:

    A very inspiring story about a person with with the courage to face up to a devastating disease and yet remain so positive.

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