"I have Parkinson's too," I said. "I know what you're going through."
He seemed to relax a bit, and we chatted for a good 15 minutes.
I learned that his name is David and that he was diagnosed just four months ago. He told me about his doctor and the medications he's taking.
We shared our common experiences. In addition to tremors in both hands, David has gait and balance issues.
Until our conversation at church, he'd not talked to another person with the disease. He'd also not attended a support group meeting, though his doctor had recommended he do so.
I invited David to visit the Parkinson's support group that I attend.
We hugged at the end of our conversation and he looked decidedly relieved.
"This was a God-thing," he assured me. "This was no accident. We were meant to talk this morning."
I took him at his word. I didn't want to admit that we should have talked weeks earlier but that I had wimped out. I'd seriously neglected my responsibilities.
That day, I think, I was able to put a human face to the disease for my new friend. I suspect he thought something like, "This guy's had Parkinson's for seven years. He seems to be doing reasonably well. No reason I can't too."
I can't tell you how many Parkinson's role models I've had over the last seven years, and they've helped me get through this. Their example has been an inspiration.
We "Parkies," as a good friend of mine and fellow sufferer labels us, gain strength from one another. We can't allow ourselves to hesitate in reaching out. We need each other, and we're definitely better together.
It's a God-thing.
JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Wednesdays.