Sharing the Load

by | Jan 9, 2023 | Sky Writings with Electra | 0 comments

We are still in 2001 and my passengers, standing in a far corner of the ballroom, continue to watch the evening’s events unfold as my anxiety grows. Now that dinner is over, they wonder what’s up next.  Again we hear the tapping of spoons on stemware followed by a hush from the audience. A gentleman, dressed in a black tux, walks up to the podium, introduces himself as the evening’s host, and announces into a microphone, “Please be seated, the awards ceremony is about to begin.” 

About a half an hour into the evening’s long list of recipients, I hear my organization’s name called. Marat Moore, current editor of the  “Leader” magazine, prompts me, with a gentle nudge, to receive the award on behalf of the American Speech Language Hearing Association (“ASHA”).

Again, I remind my passengers that this award is for my article* “Side By Side, Traveling the Road and Sharing the Load of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Somewhat dazed, I make my way to the podium, accept the award,  am photographed, and then return to my seat.  For another hour or so recipients are presented with awards, however, I’m not paying attention. Finally coffee and dessert are served accompanied by a noisy mixture of people chatting along with clanking dinnerware and various announcements. But, for me, this background fades into nothing more than a murmur as my mind floats backwards to another time and another place.

In my subconscious I recall Dave and I next to one another, holding hands at a Concert. It was 1996 and we were sitting in the balcony of Heinz Hall, attending the Pittsburgh Pops. After Conductor Marvin Hamlisch walked on stage and introduced the next act, two performers, a man and a woman with smudged faces, dressed as “hobos,” each carrying a knapsack over their shoulder, shuffled on stage. Like us, they were holding hands. They told some jokes before breaking into the old classic song, “Side By Side.” Tears welled as I listened to the meaningful lyrics set to its familiar tune, poignantly loud in my mind’s ear. Each stanza emphasized the juxtaposition of our unique relationship. 

Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money
Maybe we’re ragged and funny
But we’ll travel along, singin’ a song
Side by side
Don’t know what’s comin’ tomorrow

Maybe it’s trouble and sorrow
But we’ll travel the roadsharin’ our load
Side by side

Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall
Just as long as we’re together
It doesn’t really matter at all
When they’ve all had their quarrels and parted
We’ll be the same as we started
Just travelin’ along, singin’ our song
Side by side

I knew what was ahead for Dave, who had been newly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease (“AD”). And I knew that, as his caregiver, we would “Travel the road sharing our load, side by side.” What I didn’t know then but know now, was the answer to the question of HOW?

Stay tuned to learn more …

Click here to read the award winning article.


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