project Overview

In late 2016 my grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, one of the most diffused degenerative conditions which affects around 10 million people globally and is on the rise. There is currently no cure available, therefore patients' conditions are bound to progressively worsen in the long term, leading to the inability of being self-sufficient. I followed my grandfather in his daily life between June and September 2021, documenting his surprisingly busy schedule. The resulting photographic series "Inexorable" is the story of a stubborn man refusing to lose his battle against an unstoppable chronic disease.

2014 - the Italian National Olympic Committee awarded my grandpa with a Career Prize for his contribution to the Italian sport scene as "an athlete, a PE professor, a coach and a master of life".

Since he got diagnosed, my grandfather’s life and subsequently the lifestyle of my loved ones around him changed completely. His strong will helped him slow down the progression of symptoms through physical exercise and medications, allowing him to carry on living an almost normal life for the first few years. But as the symptoms inexorably evolved, it became necessary to adjust the roles and responsibilities around the house, which often times led to conflicts and emotional disruption. Over time, simple activities like pouring water in a glass, pressing buttons or scratching his back became a growing challenge for him.

2021 - "Look at how strong he is! He's a lion" said my grandpa's physiotherapist, marveled at his ability of raising his leg to perform a perfect Donkey Kick.

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s means coming to term with the truth that your body is deteriorating fast, that you soon will not be able to drive, to eat or get dressed autonomously, and eventually to walk or to speak without specific assistance. It's a reality that would break anyone's spirit and it's especially hard for someone who led a healthy and active life.

2021 - My grandpa's ability of sitting straight is fading as he loses control of his neck and back muscles, meaning he struggles keeping his head up. In order to give him a haircut, my grandma had to use one of her hands to hold his front.

As a young adult, he used to be an athlete. He graduated in PE and started a teaching career in the local high school. His passion for a various range of sports and the satisfaction gained by working with young athletes pushed him to be part of the sports environment in his spare time as well, both as a player and as a coach. He built a tradition of playing tennis with friends at least twice a week, an appointment he was never willing to miss. It was right in one of those occasional meetings that he first realized that there was something unusual about his movements.

The course of the disease has eventually forced my grandpa to quit playing tennis and skiing, but he still manages to actively be part of the Italian sport environment by supporting young athletes he trains devotedly. Being surrounded by his community and having a busy schedule helps him feel that he still has a grip on his life.

He considers himself lucky because he was able to keep a positive mindset throughout his Parkinson's journey. His strength relies in his strong will to remain active and the sense of humour he addresses the disease with.

© Angela Tozzi 2022
© Angela Tozzi 2021