There are many personal memoirs about the Alzheimer's Journey. The journey is sometimes so painful and protracted and passionately dismal, that we must as caregivers often resort to metaphor to describe it. Simply meaning the experience is so beyond comprehension, sometimes words can not adequately convey the emotional intensity, regardless of how gifted a writer may be
Over the years I haves taken to lighthouses. I grew up on Lake Erie and now live just a few blocks from Lake Superior. I even did my residency training in Rochester, NY which is only a few miles from Lake Ontario. About 85 percent of my life has been spent living near the Great Lakes. If you count the Delaware River, and Puget Sound then 99 percent of my life has been spent domiciled near great water. Maybe that's why lighthouses are agreeable.
The Alzheimer's journey is described in reference to storms, tornadoes, clouds, ships adrift at sea, the darkness, the monster, the beast, the fire, and the burning embers to name just of few of many. I like the lighthouse reference.
My mother passed away from AD over 22 years ago. It seems like forever some days and other days it does not feel so long ago. A lighthouse is a beacon that guides us through the sea of life. Sometimes it is calm and sometimes it is ungodly stormy. My mother strength and energy and spirit, what she instilled in me is like a timeless guiding beacon, a lighthouse.
It runs deeper than that. Lighthouses are now automated and relatively speaking of historical note only. We have all kinds of aids to navigation now that supersede lighthouses function, but some are still functional. The ones that operate these days seem to be respected and revered by mariners, bringing a sense of comfort when visible, despite all the technological advances in maritime navigation.
I love the stories of the old light keepers who kept the gas lamp going, before automation kicked in. Sometime the keeper and often their family would be very isolated for months and have to trudge up flights of winding stairs, sometimes every three hours, 24-7, almost all year. It was profound dedication to maintain the lamp. In some way The dedication is not unlike the endless devotion we see in caregivers taking care of their loved one with AD.
My wife and I have actually visited a few lighthouses, where you can actually stay overnight in the old light keepers quarters. Two Harbors, Lighthouse, in Two Harbors MN, not far from Duluth, and Whitefish Point, in Michigan, which houses the Bell from the famous Edmund Fitzgerald, (this was the safe harbor the Fitz almost made it to in 1975, before it was lost). Most recently we stayed at Sand Hills Light on the upper Peninsula of Michigan. The history and the energy is extremely intense at these lighthouses.
If you ever have the time, and are need of a break then try to visit a light. The storms they have guided mariners through can be deadly, but there is nothing sinister mean or nefarious about old original lighthouses. They are timeless and truly are a beacon of hope.