I first met Patrick on the Tube, staring out at me from a bill board. Not smiling. Not frowning. Just staring out from the board. He looked determined, like a man on a mission. And, with his paint box and easel, he is. For Patrick is an artist and his mission is to paint 100 portraits before he dies. He’s on 11 so far, and I’m excited and chuffed to say that I am on the list to be painted. The clock is against him, however, for Patrick has Motor Neurone Disease. MND is a bastard of a disease, painful, degenerative and incurable. This means that he is slowly losing the ability to walk, talk and paint. Move, eat, breathe; Patrick is dying.
This means that his wife Kath will be left to bring up their three young children on her own and that his youngest probably won’t remember her Daddy. It is heart breaking to see such a witty, talented and wonderful man deteriorate. But it is wonderful watching his blog and following his story, for Patrick is an Incurable Optimist, full of the sort of energy that can make a difference and boot MND into touch. One brush stroke at a time Patrick the Optimist is showing the world that MND is about living, not just about dying: it is about living every day to the full, about hope and the quest for a cure.
I’m en route to Cornwall at the weekend and am planning to touch base at Optimism HQ to meet Patrick in person. I can’t wait. It is this sort of spirit and attitude that I thrive on and so admire in many people – the sort that says ‘Two fingers to bad news or challenges – we’re making our own party!’ It is the sort of attitude that the indomitable Kris Hallenga used to turn her news of breast cancer diagnosis into a charity encouraging the ladies of Britain to get to know their boobs. She calls it making lemonade when you’re handed sour lemons.I saw the same optimism in Dad as he battled the dastardly rheumatoid arthritis and in Ed Stafford as he walked the length of the mighty Amazon. It i’s the same undaunted energy that these guys are using to pedal from John O Groats to Lands End on an enormous bike for seven people and that my friend and paraplegic Jamie Dunross used on his epic solo sail round Australia recently. All of them are Incurable Optimists.
It’s not to say that these people are super human in their ability to ride out the storms; they each acknowledge that there are dark days along the way. But so long as the balance sheet has more bounce than blues, then you too can be an Incurable Optimist.
Meanwhile, check out Patrick’s page here and an interview he did with BBC World Service right here. it will make you laugh and cry – it is funny, poignant and very thought provoking. For more info on MND click here.
Happy August folks,
PS Order forms for my first book ‘A Dip in the Ocean’ will be available soon.
PPS Today I spoke with Jamie & Emily of Global Boatworks. Tomorrow Jamie starts laying the frames and foam for Dippers II – my new boat
PPPS Plans for ‘London to London: Via the World’ are going well. First Major Sponsor now on board. Logistics Manager Tim Moss will be heading out to Russia and Japan to recce my landing sites in October and training is going well.
PPPPS Do you know anyone with links to or contacts in Sakhalin? If so – please give me a shout.
Pass on my regards to Patrick, a braver man than me.
Great stuff, Sarah!
I’ll email you some contacts in Sakhalin…
Desperately sad but well written Sarah.
Dear Sarah, You wont remember me at RPYC Annexe loading our boats— ours for 12 miles to Rottnest, yours for Mauritius. I lost touch about two months ago with computer problems, so it is SO good to hear your news again and get some old blogs.
Meeting you and following your row has intruduced me to all sorts of amazing things. I could probably spend all day following inspiring people and their adventures on the computer. Oddly enough even though I’m quite old, I feel that being involved on a daily basis with your row has changed me into being a different person. I’ve always loved reading books about adventurers, but suddenly thanks to you I’m on a wavelength where I actually feel involved.
For instance I’m currently reading Jessica Watson’s book, and I think “why on earth didn’t I follow her blog” — and all the others that are happening around us
I did talk one day years ago at the yacht club to James Dunross, and now i think Why didnt I follow him on the PC
.Good luck to Patrick. I am a physio and have the greatest respect for people who “just get on with it”
Great to hear from you again. Of course I remember you both. I was filling up my water cans while you filled up your tanks too. I wish I had out bottled water on instead… my water grew creatures in it!
So glad that you’re following some fun projects – I’ll pop a blog about some of the mad folks in this journeying community sometime with some new ideas too.
I hope you’re both well,
Great to hear from you once again ,you are still full of life
and busy doing your passion , It must be full on preparing yourself for your next venture ,also fitting in your speechs & your commitments.
And you still have time to notice ,someone trying to accomplice
their ambition like PATRICKS bill board Your just one great person
your Dad would be so proud of you I bet your Mum is also .( say hello from me.)
Sorry i missed your last blog , got worried when i was unable to reply ,thought you gave us up
Keep the good work & waiting for your book
Great to hear from you Takr Care &Keep in good health
Cherrio TERRY B. WEST AUSSIE !!!!!!!!!!