A Letter From the Past



  • In 2012 my husband Charlie and youngest son Luke then age 13, traveled to France, then Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago.  We were joined by a close friend and family members  (in order of appearance) Jeremy, Allen, Brandon, Yvette, Josh, Cece and Delora.  I came across this piece tonight as I was looking through my Facebook page.  We met Jen on our 30th anniversary as we celebrated at El Molina, a Casa Rural on the Meseta.  We met her again at O’ Cebreiro, at Mass as we turned to exchange a sign of peace.   A month after we returned home I wrote her this letter. I do not know if it ever was sent.

    Will you go back Jen? Memories of our conversations on the Camino come back to me, like whispers in my ear…sometimes brought by the wind and sometimes in quiet rustlings of the leaves as I relish the shade under a tree on these hot summer days.

    Will you go back, Carol? The journey was such a physical challenge for me that I did not allow myself to stretch and reach into my soul. I had hoped the time walking would allow me to clean out those dusty cobwebbed rooms and make room for the fresh and new. But my time walking was just that…walking. It truly was about physical survival, about placing one foot in front of another so would get to a place where I could lay my head and rest. At times even sleep eluded me as I thought about walking, placing one foot in front of another, getting to the next place.

    Now I see that is how my life has been up to now. Always watching my feet move forward. Through school, career, family, kids, retirement. I have been slowed and even stopped at times by an incurable disease that wants to take my mobility…yet I keep shuffling my feet. They are antsy, not done walking.

    Once I belonged to a woman’s group that explored many forms of prayer. As we were meditating one evening I felt that I could not stand. I looked at my feet to see nails driven into them, binding me to the floor. Jesus came before me, blooded from his own crucifixion and said: “Stand up woman, and walk”. He took the nails from my feet and freed me.

    I must go back, Jen. Maybe not to Spain or the Camino. But I must get to the place where I stretch and reach for spiritual survival. Where what matters is not the walking, but filling the clean rooms with beauty and grace and mercy and love and tenderness and joy and thanksgiving.

    Where will you go next, Jen…

    In this writing that poured out of me, I have found my Camino. I have no idea why I pulled up your name just now and started this writing. May the Peace of Christ, made flesh and blood in the miracle at O Cebreiro, reign in the vacant rooms of your heart…and dwell in the places of love and joy life as brought you.      Carol


Published by Carol Clupny, author The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman's Remarkable Journey with Parkinson's Disease

I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson's Disease. When I was first diagnosed I spent a lot of time researching the disease. Seeing a video of a man in the advanced stages of the disease attempting to get out of his chair and then "freezing" as he tried to walk across the room got me off my butt and moving. Great adventures on the Camino de Santiago and with TEAM Pedaling for Parkinson's across IOWA, as well as the day to day adventures of life have lead me to writing. My first novel, a memoir, was published early 2019. It is called, you got it THE RIBBON OF ROAD AHEAD. Living with the degenerative neurological disease Parkinson's, ULTREIA is a word that guides me. I have chosen it as the name of my business ULTREIA BOOKS. It comes from Latin and old French and means "unfailing courage". In the old days, pilgrims would call "Ultreïa" to each other as encouragement "Go up, go further!" Nowadays we would say "You can do this thing". It takes courage to live with Parkinson's. May I face each day with unfailing courage. Ab Here is more about me; I was living an active lifestyle riding horses, hiking, climbing and snow skiing when at age fifty I was diagnosed with Parkinsons. Retiring from my career as a speech-language pathologist I decided to “take to the road” to battle the disease. My first steps, walking out her door to the mailbox, lead to trekking over 1000 miles of pilgrimage trails on the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. A dusty bike discovered in the garage resulted in four rides on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with the Pedaling for Parkinsons Team. These adventures inspired me to write a memoir The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey with Parkinson’s Disease. I blogs about my everyday life as a middle-aged woman in the mid-stages of Parkinson’s disease. My honest, humorous, and casual narrative style brings the reader to an intimate understanding of my resilience and acceptance. My blog, sharing the name of my book ”The Ribbon of Road Ahead” can be found at www.ultreiablog.org After completing a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from Eastern Washington University I received certification in School Leadership and Administration from Lewis and Clark College. I provided speech pathology services and later became a program director completing 32 years in the wide geographic expanse of eastern Oregon. Active in the Oregon Speech-Language and Hearing Association I received honors of the association and the presidential award for work on recruitment and retention of speech and hearing professionals. Il presented numerous papers and projects at local, state and regional professional conferences. I was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to two terms of the Oregon Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the state’s licensing and consumer protection agency. Since my diagnosis in 2008, I has become active in the Parkinson’s community as an advocate, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and support group facilitator for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. I was appointed the regional patient representative for the Parkinson's Foundation’s Women with PD TALK study. In September of 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation selected me to participate in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC. As an attendee at the World Parkinson Congress in 2016 in Portand, Oregon, I presnted a poster session examining the decision making process for patients considering deep brain stimulation. At the 2019 WPC in Kyoto, Japan I presented a poster on vision concerns of women with PD and lead small group discussions. Myr book The Ribbon of Road Ahead has provided many speaking opportunities for Carol. In 2019 and early 2020 she visited 24 support groups in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to share her thoughts on living well with the disease. In addition, she has presented talks for The Center on Aging in San Francisco, Parkinson's Place in Las Vegas, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation in Richland WA and virtually through their HOPE online program. In late 2020 I rejuvenated her voice and narrated her book. It became available as an audio book in 2021. As part of this project I read stories over the airwaves on RadioParkies Australia with DJ Madonna and in Great Britain with DJ Johnny Parky. She and her husband Charlie have two adult sons. They live on a small hobby farm in eastern Oregon. Contact Information: Carol Clupny PO BOX 128, Hermiston, OR 97838 caclupny@gmail.com (541) 720-4256

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