Reflections on Mt. Washington – by Carol Cummings, Brookdale Senior Living
As we neared the top one climber became very fatigued-“hit the wall” as they say. We helped her from behind and before, telling her where to step, lending her our hand, making sure she ate, drank and rested and repeated encouraging phrases-“you’re going to make it-we are almost there”. When we got to the top we were exhausted and in a state of disbelief (especially when we saw the steep stair case to get to the restrooms!). But we had made it, we had climbed together and we were at the top-time to celebrate!
It is only upon reflecting that I clearly see the powerful metaphors for life, especially for caregivers on the long journey of helping a loved one through the slow process of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many other conditions. They start out strong-banded together with friends and family. But eventually the journey brings disbelief and difficulty-so unanticipated that they wonder if this can possibly be the path that is chosen for them. Inevitably, the “wall” appears bringing with it fatigue, loss of strength and the absolute need to rely on others. It happens to anyone who is asked to walk this long road of care giving.
I consider it an absolute privilege to be counted among those who are asked to help them, both as a professional devoted to caring for older adults and as a supporter of Leeza’s Place. For now-as the strong one-I will offer my hand and my encouragement to them with the knowledge that I have walked and will most likely again walk in their shoes. And in the end I will be able to witness and share in their victory-knowing they ran the race and kept the faith one step at a time. What an incredible journey! Thank you Leeza and Brookdale for the incredible honor and privilege of being part of it-a metaphor for life-the lessons will stay with me forever and have already made me stronger.