It’s the time of year when traditionally I do quite a bit of thinking about the year that is about to come to an end, the year that lies ahead full of possibilities and endless dreams, and the many resolutions that I may or may not keep.
As I sat down to really reflect on the year with all its ups and downs, I realized this year I have had such a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn from some amazing people who influence long term care across the globe. However, I also realized I learned the most this year from the Elders who came in and out of my life over the past 12 months.
Some things I picked up this year from our Elders:
1) Relationships are the most important part of living. Yes, I learned that this year. Deep down, I always knew it had to be true but when those frail arms of a precious Elder I adore reached for me to hug her, it was with knowing in her eyes. Our bond with each other was able to overcome the test of time, distance, cognitive loss and frailty. Relationships are indeed the most important part of life. In 2013, I hope we can all form relationships that not only enhance our lives but teach us things that mere words cannot.
2) Love comes when you least expect it. This year I got to meet two Elders who fell in love while living in a nursing home. They did not expect to fall in love but they did. The beauty of the moments they shared together made me feel like an intruder or maybe even someone watching a movie unfold. The caring that shone in their eyes when they looked at each other melted my heart and made me hopeful that true happiness has no boundaries or specific moments in time.
3) Never take anything for granted. A powerful moment for me this year took place during our Elder Vacation week to Myrtle Beach. One Elder from East Ky told me the trip was the best of his life. He had always wanted to visit the ocean but could not read to navigate the road signs to get himself there. He actually thanked me for taking him. Wow! I want to thank him for a life lesson. I learned that I have been so extremely blessed with education and abilities to go places that some people only dream of going. We take what we have for granted. I plan to focus in 2013 more than ever on making others dreams and wishes come true.
4) Risk makes life worth living. Yes, as I watched two Elders para-sail in the middle of the ocean, I realized that risk is essential to life. When those ladies waved goodbye to me from the life raft that transported them to the middle of the ocean so they could take the flight of their lifetime into the air, I was terrified for all the things that could go wrong. When they came back to shore with the breath of excitement in their voices and a new light shining in their eyes, I realized how invigorating the trip had been for them. Upside risk is a powerful thing.
5) Appreciate every moment of life. Yes, I learned this year that we should delight in the things that are around us. Take time to stop and drink in the beauty of nature or the simplicity of a bird singing its morning song. Life is a one way road and we don’t get to turn around and travel it again. We should do our best to remember everything along the way.
As 2012 comes to an end, I cherish each moment I spent with Elders this year who in some way impacted my life. Their footprint on my life’s journey will always be evident. In preparing for the new year, it is my hope for all of us that we are able to paint the blank slate with fulfilled dreams, beautiful moments, and enlightening wisdom that only our Elders can reward us with.