Reba Dill keeps positive outlook

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Reba Dill loves softball and plays with one of her son's ball gloves and her other son's bat. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Reba Dill of Manila has been living with Parkinson's Disease for over seven years, but she has not let it stop her from living life to its fullest and enjoying the blessings of life she finds all around her.

One example of her determination is her continued work in church, continuing to play softball, and still riding a motorcycle with her husband, Ray. These are a few of the things she loves to do and has no plans to give them up.

Going back to the beginning of her diagnosis in February 2002, Dill was unsure where it would take her.

"I didn't know much about Parkinson's," she said. "They say a person usually has had symptoms for seven or eight years before being diagnosed. I put off the signs as just getting older. At first I would wake up with a jerking feeling or a tingle in my pinky finger and those were easy to ignore. I was outside one day and my husband noticed I was not swinging my right arm when I walked and mentioned it.

"Ironically, I received a health magazine in the mail and there was an article on Parkinson's. Not because I thought I had the disease but the article caught my attention and after reading it, I realized I had five of the seven symptoms. Not knowing much about it, I began to do research. I started pulling up information and I realized there was nothing good about it. I talked to people and again I realized there was nothing good to be said about the disease. I did know my lifestyle was about to change."

One Sunday morning Mrs. Dill got up and told her husband she didn't want to go to church but wanted them to take a drive. That was an unusual request from her but off they went.

"I needed to think clearly and I wanted to talk to Ray," she said. "I read a scripture in Proverbs 18:14 that said, 'The human can endure a sick body but who can spare it if the spirit is crushed.' God let me know I had to keep my spirit strong. I told Ray from that moment on I would not read any more negative articles about Parkinson's nor would I listen to anything negative. I feel that decision has made a lot of difference in my attitude."

Dill is quick to say it is not always easy to leave the negative but she listens to her doctors, takes her medicine, depends on the Lord and has done her very best to keep her sense of humor.

She retired last year from the Manila Public School. She has always been a people person and she misses the students and her co-workers.

She has always loved playing softball and the game has lifted her spirits over the last few years. She did more coaching this year than playing and her team won the women's championship.

"I was thrilled when the young women asked me to play with them a few years ago," she said. "I'd played softball most all of my life and I really love the game."

She has played for the Pink Ladies, the Dazed and Confused, and this year she was with Gamble's Girls. She has played since 2002. She called herself the granny on the field but no one can dispute the fact she could still hit the ball to the fence.

"When I hit the ball, even the women on the opposing teams cheered me on," Dill said.

Coaching gave her the opportunity to still bat and be part of the game. She was available if they needed her for an extra hitter.

She hit a ball over the fence in 2002. She said she thought that might be her last season but she has been out there every summer since. She said if the good Lord is willing she will be back next year helping to coach and ready to bat if they need her.

She said she plays with her oldest son's glove and her youngest son's bat.

Her family has been most supportive ever since they held their first family meeting when she told them she had been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Her oldest son, Richie, and his wife, Carrie, live in Hayti, Mo., her daughter, Deadra Arthur, lives in Memphis, and her youngest son, Sonny Ray, lives in Manila. She has four grandchildren, Lee Robins, 21, Britton, 17, Elizabeth, 15, and Kathlean, 10.

She said her husband is one of her greatest supporters.

"People have been so good to me - my co-workers, my church family, the girls I play softball with, and my family. I've had my fair share of blessings," she said.

Dill said attitude makes a difference in everything, even Parkinson's.

"I know God cares for me and everything I do," she said. "I refuse to sit down and quit living. I've been asked if I expect God to act. Yes, I do but what action he takes is His choosing and I will accept it. Isaiah 40:29 says, 'He gives power to the tired and worn out and strength to the weak.'"

Dill said she has bad days and weather can play havoc on her. However, she keeps on going. She teaches classes at the Higher Ground Ministry and has served as guest speaker for several women's meetings.

"I've learned not to make long term plans," she said. "I take things one day at a time. If I get up and feel like riding, we get the motorcycle out of barn and off we go."

When she feels like it, she plans on skydiving.

"It is something I've always wanted to do and Ray and Sonny Ray are going to join me," she said. "We are hoping to do it this fall. Skydiving is on my bucket list."

She has learned to live with Parkinson's. She took a negative thing and put a positive attitude on it.

"If we look around, there is always someone worse off than we are," Dill said. "I am not being unrealistic, I just choose to focus on the positive."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: