BY: Dolores T. Magid, MEd, CMC
Vice President Elder Connections
Cousin Hannah made it very clear. She wanted to go on a cruise and she wanted my husband and me to go with her. This invitation landed on us like a ton of bricks. We knew that she was unable to travel alone and that the cruise experience would be unmanageable without a caregiver’s presence. We also knew that this “vacation” would be about caring for Hannah without time for ourselves. And, did I mention that she talks non-stop and that the stories include the entirety of World War II repeated several times? We would be the Siamese triplets! You get the picture.
What to do? We did not have it in our hearts to say anything but, “Yes”
Cousin Hannah is a Holocaust survivor. At 12 years of age, Hannah was sent to a work camp with her family. Later she landed in a Concentration Camp in Germany. Between the ages of 12 – 17, this young girl lost her family and almost her life.
The experience of the past has left scars. It contributes to Hannah’s view of the world and her fears of persecution. While it is true that she did not leave our side, the events of the week contained humor and joy for all of us. Our staterooms were connected as were our hearts. There are so many funny stories to file in our memory banks and a life experience that we will always treasure. The gift of this cruise was that it was so much more than a trip! It was a contribution to our own life’s journey.
We are her family, our children are like her grandchildren. We are her lifeline and she loves us with all her heart.
Cousin Hannah could not have gone on this cruise without us. She is a world traveler who can no longer travel alone. But, caregiving is not only about the care of the body, it is about the care of the spirit!
I wonder how many seniors would give anything to go on a cruise but are not able to go it alone. It occurred to me that Elder Connections can set sail for other seniors who wish to cruise by providing the caregivers to accompany them.
Do you have a senior who wants to cruise? Just think of us as Elder Connections at Sea! My bags are packed.