Last Friday afternoon, January 20, 2012, I performed at Sandpiper Convalescent Center, singing with the Divas. Arriving early, I noticed a lovely lady, dressed in pink. A pink bow was in her silver-gray hair. Pearls and several necklaces she wore. The smile on her face when I said hello made me feel warm and welcomed. “Are you the Divas?” She asked.
“Yes, we are and we’re ready to entertain you for a while.” Again, she cast me that warm, welcoming smile. I introduced myself, noticing a business card placed on her chest.
A relative from Iowa had dropped by earlier to visit her and she was so happy. She cherished the business card. “I don’t get many visitors,” she said.
Perhaps you have never visited a nursing home or convalescent center. I have. In 1998, I toured Sandpiper, admitting my dad who was suffering with terminal cancer, needing ‘skilled nursing care.’ For those who do not recognize the definition of skilled nursing care, it simply means 24-hour nursing care. My dad was seriously ill. Although I attempted to care for him, I recognized I did not possess the professional medical care training he needed. Yes, the nurturing part of me was alive and able to nurture him, and I knew a bit about cancer, but my dad had a PEG tube. Even though the nurses trained me about cleaning of the PEG tube, I was not comfortable with it. My precious dad needed more nursing care than I could give him. I visited him daily, with exception of three times during his illness when I had severe bronchitis attacks. When visiting the nursing home during his illness, I noticed several people never had visitors and that disturbed me deeply. Walking back into Sandpiper on Friday, I did not focus on the loss of my dad. I performed as well as I could without focusing on the day of his death, July 6, 1999, while I was walking into his room to visit with him. I must say, it was great to see some of the residents at Sandpiper bopping their heads to the music, and to hear them singing the lyrics with us. My dad would be proud of me. Yes, I could feel his presence, and it was great to walk into Sandpiper again, this time, to entertain.
My dad’s roommate is still residing at Sandpiper. I walked over to him, dedicated a song to him and kissed him on the forehead. He blushed. Seconds later, he was singing “Unchained Melody,” along with me. How I loved hearing him singing with me. Mr. Dudley was enjoying the music and his body was moving to the beat!
It was such an honor to sing to such a warm, responsive group, to share a bit of music, nostalgia, and memories to a group of senior citizens who rarely get out to enjoy life as much as they did previously. My fondest wish is that the Divas gave them happy memories and entertainment. As for me, I left Sandpiper singing, I lifted my head to the sky, telling God thank you. Thank you for life and the ability to sing to a group of precious individuals who still need the bonding of family, the therapy of music, and the touch of warmth the Divas shared with a group of beautiful, precious residents. I look forward to seeing them again, and inviting them to sing with the Divas!