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Fruit of a Servant Leader’s Life

“Jesus says people who live the vulnerable life of connection and relationship will bear much fruit. These are the people we trust, like and admire.” -Richard Rohr

Jeff Myhand was one of those blessed people who would come to bear many baskets of fruit as a husband, father, grandfather, business leader and committed citizen of Macon, Georgia and beyond.

Jeffrey Roy Myhand, “Jeff,” 77, passed away July 23, 2022. 

The overflow gathering at his Celebration of Life July 28 showed his impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Consider just two accomplishments of this “Servant Leader,” as his friend, the Rev. Joe McDaniel, aptly described Jeff.

The Ocmulgee River famously flooded Downtown Macon in 1994. Jeff was in charge of operations for the city’s largest and best-paying industry, Brown & Williamson Tobacco.

Jeff dispatched every truck in his company’s large fleet to make continuous roundtrips to nearby Milledgeville bringing potable water to Maconites who had none.  Further, he sent a crack team of his engineers to aid the municipal water authority in reopening

the intake valve that brought river water to the treatment plant.

The second accomplishment involved the local United Way. He challenged his work force to contribute $500,000 to the year’s fundraising drive. If met, he said, Brown & Williamson would match the $500,000. 

Mission accomplished. United Way got $1,000,000.

Jeff was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2020. He was determined to fight back with the quiet determination that marked his life. 

He was a charter member of the PD Fit exercise program at Middle Georgia State University for Parkinson’s sufferers. He rarely missed a three-times-a-week, 90-minute class.

He gave his all at every class.

PD had attacked Jeff’s voice, leaving him with hardly a whisper. Accompanied by wife Rita, he engaged a speech therapist, practiced, and improved.

I greeted him at the beginning of each PD Fit class in my most stentorian voice. “Good morning, Jeff.” 

“Good morning, Gil,” he responded in as loud a voice as he could muster.

PD Fit exercise coach Lindsey Justice was stunned at news of Jeff’s swift demise from Covid 19 on July 23.

 “My heart is broken! I’m in shock,” she said. “Jeff was just hollering ‘top of the morning to ya!’ in class.” 

One of our class exercises is lifting each arm as if we are dropping fruit in a basket with loving care.

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The Connoisseur’s Guide to All Things Parkinson’s

Up for a Deep Dive into understanding better the riddles and mysteries of Parkinson’s?

Look no further than Possibilities with Parkinson’s: A Fresh Look.  It comes from W. David Hoisington, better known by his blogger nom de plume, Dr. C. 

Forget the snoozer title. The book is a mind-bending romp through innovative ways of understanding this bizarre condition and building effective coping strategies. It’s mindfulness on steroids

If I could rename the book, my expansive title would be The Connoisseur’s Guide to All Things Parkinson’s.

Dr. C’s genius is to get beyond the visible and observable about PD. He uses rich metaphors to enlarge his compelling and original commentary. The several hundred, at least, footnotes testify to his scientific rigor.

One metaphor I especially like is the conductor. “Think of the conductor as the attention director,” Dr. C writes.  “Sensory, memory and emotional stimuli come into the Grand Central Station. The conductor helps decide which stimuli are the most important and thus need to be granted quicker access and more attention.”

The better able you are at molding your conductor, the better able you are at warding off the emotional stress storms of Parkinson’s.

Another arresting metaphor is threshold management. “Threshold management is the practice of calming emotional input prior to thinking overreacting to that input,” he writes. “This calming practice helps prevent a buildup of emotional energy that can toss someone over the threshold.”

Dr. C’s bedrock belief is that an injured brain can develop new circuits to cure itself. It is akin to gaining the benefits of DBS surgery without undergoing the surgery.

Dr. C has had careers as a research theoretician, brain rehabilitation clinician, and college professor. Dr. C was first diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s disease in 2014. 

He endorses tried and true advice about living well with Parkinson’s. That recipe includes proper diet, rest, exercise, and hydration.

For those of us with Parkinson’s, Dr. C’s book and columns are must reads. Find his blogs at www.parkinsonsnewstoday.com. Possibilities with Parkinson’s can be found in many bookstores and online.