In 2013, I walked 2,594 miles pushing a jogging stroller to raise awareness concerning Alzheimer’s disease.
I had some time yesterday, spare time, so I sat on mom’s deck. A thought came to me, and I decided to pursue it. What value had I provided by walking down the street pushing a jogging stroller? I’m not speaking of any value other than to the person that stopped me to speak of their situation, concerning alzheimer’s, because I walked down the road.
I pretended as I looked across the street, that a 75 year old lady lived there. She has alzheimer’s. Her 55 year old daughter lives with her and has become a 24/7 caregiver for her mother. The daughter had been, until recently, an employee at Subway. She was a sandwich maker. She was content and she was living her life with plenty of down time to relax and so forth. It was different now, no help to speak of and a mom that needs care 24/7.
In my made up scenario here, the daughter saw a picture of me in the newspaper. She knew I would be walking past her house. She looked out the next day and there I was, walking down her street. She came out and we spoke for about 1/2 hour. A few minutes of the time was spent with her asking questions about my journey, but most of the time was spent with her explaining how hard it was to watch her mom struggle. She shed tears and thanked me “for doing what you are doing.” She told me it was exciting meeting someone doing this. I gave her a card with the phone number of the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline on it. I never heard from her or of her again.
A young couple actually lives across the street, but my made up story, or stories similar to it we’re a regular occurence on my trip across America.
Now, what was my worth to her. Was it in the excitement generated within her for the few minutes following her reading about what I was doing? Was it in the excitement generated within her upon meeting me? Was it in the information contained on the card I gave her? As far as the card goes, I don’t know if she called the number or not, and even if she did, if they were able to help her. Maybe the Alzheimer’s Association helped her with tangible help or by just letting her know she is not alone and that someone cares.
I thought about it. She received kindness, respect and time from me. I’m pretty sure she could see that I was listening and that I cared. Did the excitement of the moment help her get through the day, or any part of the day? Did knowing that others care help? Did knowing that she was in the same boat as millions of others help?
I’m thinking the answer to that was up to her.
If someone gives me kindness, respect and time, it helps. If some listens intently and shows what I percieve as a look of concern, it helps. I know if someone gives me information that they think may provide me with some answers, it helps. These things would make me feel cared about, at a time, as a caregiver, that I might feel all alone.
It helps me when folks show me they care about my life, especially when I think that times are tough.
Yes, we did help folks by walking down that road and it helped me to feel like I might be making someone else’s life better.