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In Celebration of Mom's Forgotten

Meeting Ms. Sanders

Ever have something occur in your life that changes your ideas or concepts?

My first assignment as a Hospice Volunteer for Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Home Health Hospice, was a weekly visit at the local Nursing Home.

With portable keyboard in hand, I entered the visitors’ room. As I set up, the room filled with twenty or so residents eager to hear a few songs. I played a few universal tunes and happiness filled the room with rich and sometimes off-key vocals. This was an experience all enjoyed. I noticed more residents entering the room along with a few of the Nursing Staff. Soon we were a choir of lyric and harmony which rang through the halls.

A frail woman I’d grown to know as Ms. Sanders cautiously approached. Her grey hair was disheveled and her body slumped, yet she projected an aura of excitement. I’d seen her many times sitting alone, lost in her own world, mumbling gibberish, her words incoherent as an effect of Alzheimer’s. She pushed my hands from the keyboard and slid next to me, her mutterings now more as loud growls. Whatever could she want? Her intensity rose in volume and she banged her hands atop mine and pushed them aside.

Then it hit me! She wished to play the instrument. Why not? After all, I doubt anyone would care if a few harsh cords reached their ears. And at the moment it was the only way to silence her uttering s. I prepared myself for the inevitable off-key tones and closed my eyes.

A magnificently beautiful concerto filled the air. It was breathtaking. It was perfection and it was indeed, a miracle. I opened my eyes to view Ms. Sander’s fingers gliding effortlessly across the white plastic keys. All her intention focused on the act of producing music. This woman who could no longer communicate and was cast off as having no redeeming qualities was providing we, who sat within the room this day, the most wondrous gift - the gift of masterful music. The room filled with applause, mine perhaps being the loudest of all.

When she’d tired and rose from her seat, I stood and we embraced. I promised to bring my keyboard the next week. Of course, her answer was more gibberish. Yet I somehow knew she understood my words when I saw the single tear run down her cheek and felt the joy emitting from within her soul. In that instant something inside us clicked. There was no need for words, the music had said it all.

The aides told me Ms. Sanders would look for me each day. Her excitement when I’d arrive told her story. She now had purpose and true value in her life.

There are also no words to express the gratitude I felt to have met such a talented woman who changed not only my concepts, but also my life. I miss her and the grand times we experienced together. I shall never forget and shall always hold her near and dear to my heart.

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