A Warrior Throughout Life
When you speak with Sheldon Corrow, the scope of his passion for helping others is hidden behind a veil of humility. Never one to talk himself up, Sheldon insists that he’s lived a normal life – raised in the beautiful but “unexciting” farming community of Northern Maine, working a variety of jobs as an adult in Connecticut, and making some friends along the way.
But when you speak to his wife, Pat, you begin to realize that Sheldon’s story – and his dedication to helping others – is something special.
Raised in the far north of Maine – not far from the Canadian border – Sheldon spent his childhood as a member of a small farming community. Though the town itself was small, most of the families who lived there were large. Sheldon was raised as one of four children – much fewer than the dozen his relatives had. He grew up like many kids in Maine, taking advantage of the state’s four seasons – skiing and skating during the snowy winters, while helping other kids to transform crop fields into baseball diamonds during the summer.
After graduating high school, Sheldon left Maine to fulfill his service requirements – something that wasn’t optional at the time. His journey brought him to Connecticut, where he continued his vocational training, and even took some marketing courses, after completing basic training for the National Guard – where he’d serve as a “weekend warrior” for the next seven years. He also went on to take a job in sales, which fit him well as a person who loves speaking with others, and in particular, helping them solve problems. All the while, Sheldon carried his typical warm humor. “If I don’t have it, you don’t need it!” read one of his memorable advertising slogans. Later on, in the second phase of his career, Sheldon continued helping people – writing mortgages for first-time home buyers.
While in Connecticut, Sheldon found himself in the right place at the right time, meeting his wife-to-be in what feels like a movie scene. At age 25, while out to dinner at a bar, he noticed a girl and decided to talk to her. They hit it off, and soon began dating.
“I have to tell you – we aren’t drinkers, and we don’t really go to bars – but I met her at a bar!” Sheldon says, with a smile. “We were having dinner, though,” his wife tacks on, jokingly. Their meeting – however unlikely – feels like fate; they’ve now been married for 54 years.
“He is one of the kindest people you will ever meet,” Pat says of her husband. “And he’s very, very patient – always willing to do things, and always fun. And I think that’s probably what drew me to him.”
Sheldon and Pat settled in Connecticut, and raised two kids. Much like their father, they spent most of their childhood outside – hiking, biking, rollerblading, and going to the beach.
“My life was sometimes hectic, but it was always progressing in other fields and other interests.”
But in 1996, Sheldon and Pat’s lives came to a screeching halt. The couple lost their 23-year-old son to suicide – something they’ve struggled with ever since. “It is the hardest part in our life,” says Pat. But through the pain, Sheldon’s kind character persevered – something that Pat still admires. “Surviving it intact, it is probably the biggest testament to [Sheldon’s] character, strength, and attitude,” Pat adds. Despite the life-changing hardship, Sheldon has remained steadfast in his dedication to helping others.
But more recently, he’s had to rely more and more on the help of others. That’s because Sheldon is living with Parkinson’s Disease – and has been for the last twelve years.
At first, Sheldon didn’t realize that he had begun dragging his right foot – at the grocery store, while out to walk, or elsewhere. It wasn’t until Pat pointed it out to him – and even showed him that his right shoe was wearing out faster than his left – and that his posture was changing – that he began to notice for himself.
Eventually, they went to his primary care doctor – who told Sheldon that he believed he had Parkinson’s. After going to a neurologist, the diagnosis was confirmed.
For years, Sheldon’s active lifestyle made life with Parkinson’s relatively manageable. But when COVID stopped the world in 2020, staying active became more difficult. Sheldon began to have more trouble living his normal life. He suffered from freezing of gait – which made walking a difficult task. It began to affect more than just his physical health – his mind was taking a toll as well.
But despite struggling – Sheldon was used to giving help, not taking it. Just as he had initially resisted medication from his doctor, Sheldon at first resisted the help of a cane. He wasn’t ready to rely on something else to help him move.
At times, Sheldon still feels that way. “I’m 82 years old, but I’m not ready to give up. I don’t feel 82 years old. There are times when I feel 62.” However, Sheldon has warmed up to the cane – and has even started using NexStride to help him get around. It’s a decision he is happy he made, using his NexStride for daily tasks like getting the mail, or working in his garden.
“It’s helping me to relax a bit as I walk,” Sheldon says of the NexStride. “It keeps me going and it makes me feel like I’m in control.”
“Although, there are times when I get to the mailbox, turn around, and realize I don’t have it,” Sheldon admits. “It does get difficult,” Sheldon adds, sharing his frustration about having trouble doing things he has done all his life.
But when things get tough for Sheldon, he thinks back to something his doctor told him after he was diagnosed:
“Don’t let Parkinson’s take over. You have to be aggressive and beat Parkinson’s. You’ll never beat Parkinson’s as far as getting away from it – but you can beat it to the point where you’re still living your life.And I’ve been able to do that for 12 years.”
In doing so, Sheldon is helping others once again – whether he realizes it or not. His story, and his dedication to progress – be it in life, or in his battle with Parkinson’s – serves as a reminder that our journeys are not always linear, nor are they ever simple. But when we approach our obstacles with perseverance, and a dedication to progress – both for ourselves and for others – we can live a life of fulfillment, no matter what comes our way.
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