A family hero

Photo of Gordon Crandell with his wife Ann and daughters Beverly, Karen, and Dawn by his side.

When Dawn Crandell talks about her dad, Gordon, you can hear the love and admiration in every word. “He was a big, strong, tough but funny man,” she recalls. “Just really fun to be around.”

Father of three and beloved husband to Ann, Gordon was a civil engineer who ran his own large-scale construction company. Brimming with energy, he enjoyed boating and skiing with his daughters, and would always have a project on the go in his workshop.

To the girls it seemed he could build and fix just about anything. Beverly Crandell recalls one night when she was a little girl, a friend pointed at the half moon. She said, “Look, Bev, the moon is broken!” Bev didn’t bat an eye — she said, “that’s okay my Dad can fix it.”

In his daughters’ eyes, Gordon instilled that kind of confidence, the notion that there really was nothing that their dad couldn’t do, including fixing the moon. So, in his wisdom, he quickly turned around and said to Bev and her friend, “Yeah, in about two weeks I’ll have it fixed. Bev completely believed that — and she and her sisters never lost that faith in their father.

As the girls grew up and moved away from home, the family remained close. Gordon and Ann retired, and were making plans for the next stage of their lives, when they were blindsided by Gordon’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease.

That’s when the Crandell family became part of our family — part of Parkinson Canada’s big, supportive family.

Each year, kind donations ensure that no matter what, Parkinson Canada can be there to help and support families throughout their entire Parkinson’s journey. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone in grappling with this terrible disease,” says Dawn. “Knowing that there are people behind you…it gives your spirit a boost.”

Photo of Ann and Gordon Crandell, circa 1957

Parkinson’s slowly robbed the Crandell family of the man they’d always known. Progressively, Gordon became physically weaker. He became slower, and it became harder for him to walk. There were even a few falls. But, ever-resourceful, using his engineering skills, Gordon devised helpful tools for himself. “We were so impressed by his creativity,” Dawn recalls. “He was always designing reaching devices, grab bars and things to make his life easier.”

Karen, Dawn and Beverly worked together to help Ann care for Gordon, but it was extremely tough on them all. The saddest thing for the girls was seeing their mother losing her husband in little pieces at a time. The burden on Ann — who would never have classified it or acknowledge that it was a burden — just became heavier and heavier and heavier as the disease progressed.

Gordon passed away on Christmas Eve, 2015; just two days shy of his and Ann’s 55th wedding anniversary.

While the girls curse the disease that slowly stole their dad, they remain generous donors and optimistic members of the Parkinson Canada family. Dawn says, “With enough money for research, I expect the puzzle of Parkinson’s will be unravelled in the not too distant future…with hope and commitment, together we’ll get there.”

Learn more about how you can help Parkinson Canada provide care and support; valuable, accurate information; and research for better treatments and hopefully someday a cure.

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