“I Won’t Let Parkinson’s Define Me” Is John Creveling’s Vow
His beguiling book, “More Than What You See,” illustrates with a profusion of his poetry, art, and photographs.
By Judy Flander, January 5 2021, Philadelphia, PA.
John Creveling is sitting in his “Man Cave,” which is what his wife calls the third floor of their house, which is his sanctuary. The space has his gym and his many collections — books, coins, cameras, paints, guitars, a harmonica and more. They all get his attention but since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease his activity has been progressively limited.
It’s been eleven years since he learned he had Parkinson’s and three years since he published his invaluable book, “More Than What You See.” The book has given heart to many, not only those with Parkinson’s, but to some with other diseases. And to people beguiled by his book of poetry, his art, his photographs and his remarkable spirit. His photos, particularly his sunsets and sunrises, are poems in themselves.
“More Than What You See” illustrates his determination not to miss a minute of his life. He says, often, I will not let Parkinson’s define me.” I wanted to accommodate to my PD,” he explains, “make adjustments. I don’t want to give up, I want to leave a little bit of something behind.”
His Parkinson’s heroes are the actor and PD activist Michael J. Fox and the late Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion, philanthropist, exemplar.
Creveling, 73, lives in a charming circa 1860’s row house in Philadelphia with the love of his life, his wife, Christina Robertson. Their 30th wedding anniversary is nigh. It was a second marriage for both. Creveling has three sons and a daughter from his first. Many grandchildren. And three great grandchildren, he says delightedly.
He says he’s written at least a hundred more of his poems since his book came out. He attributes all of them to what he calls, only half humorously, his “Phantom Writer.” The poems arrive in his mind, he explains, “at any time during the night or day.” “Everything written has to be about life. About love, about sadness, too,” he says.
When Creveling was writing his book, he was still going pretty strong — lifting heavy weights five days a week as he’d been doing for 25 years. “I used to exercise for body building.” Now, he says with a wry laugh, “I can’t even come close to it anymore.” He still exercises as much as he can. With PD, he says, “the value of exercise is even more important. It affects the quality of life. I want to live as long as I can.”
And now, an added pleasure, some poems are coming to him as songs. Possibly folk songs he may soon play on his guitar. He’s has started guitar lessons from a 17 year old boy who lives across the street.
Creveling has been pursuing his avocations since long before he retired. He’s been collecting coins since he was eleven when the project earned him a Boy Scout Badge. He still is delightedly adding coins to his many. Buying from the U. S. Mint, and even, he laughs, as he sometimes did as a child, finding a few on the ground.
He loves to paint on many surfaces. From old wooden chairs in many colors to portraits on mirrors. Slyly, he always leaves a little bit of the mirror showing.
Now that he is lately trying to learn how to play his guitar he finds, “There are times when my fingers won’t give me what I want.” His alternative, he says, picking up his harmonica with a grin and blasting out three noisy notes.
“PD alters my way of living,” he remarks matter of factly. “It’s a disease without a cure. So far.” he adds.
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The book, “More Than What You See,” is available on Amazon. and at book stores on order.