Another hot day to be out with my children, but it was a commitment we had made, and we were not going to back out. They would be waiting for us. Assembled in the big room with colorful pictures, and chairs lined against the walls.
Shifting the van into park, I grip the steering wheel with resolve and prayer that this day would bring joy or encouragement to at least one. I pray for strength. We settle the baby into the stroller, grab our music, our instruments, and our bags of activities, and we march – together – holding hands, into the Nursing Home.
This is where I am honest with you – This is hard for me. I know the outcome of some of our visits will be sad, heartbreaking, and our drive home will be peppered with questions from the children, about what they may witness in a visit.
We press on, week after week, for three years. Never missing a visit.
And each week, we entertain the same routine.
The same gentleman is sitting in “his spot” on the bench under the shady tree before we enter. He greets us with the same words every week. He remembers seeing us before,, He just “can’t remember.” The children smile at him, wave, and we pass by. He is humming the same tune. I knew that he would be.
The heavy glass doors are open today, to let a cooler breeze float down the halls to the residents rooms. As in cue, the children all separate. I take the baby in the stroller, with the toddler in each hand.
We take the elevator to the next floor. The same smell greets my senses. I can hear a few disgruntled voices coming from down the hall. We are heading to the 1st room we always visit. She is waiting in the chair by her bed for us today. No one else visits her. Ever. When she sees the baby, the joy that floods her countenance is indescribable. We spend time. Me chasing the baby, while she is eager to move – and the toddlers carrying on a conversation with our friend. If they only knew that conversation would bring so much joy.
We move on, room to room, listening to repeated details about pictures that adorn the walls of each resident. Our friends now. We know their families names, their background, their hobbies, interests, and sorrows. They are our family now.
The other children and I meet back together in the Big Family Room. Lined with chairs – that are now filled with “our family.” The nurses wait for us each week, and work hard to gather them all together in this one place for Worship, fellowship and Joy moments.
Each child prepares special music. My son who is still so young, plays on the piano, songs from our family hymnal - and the children sing loudly the hymns they have memorized.
The forgotten pasts, the memories that have faded so dim – They sing! They sing ALL of the words we bring to them each week. When the tunes begin to play – their minds are swirling with memory of the words gone by – and they sing the melody from their HEARTS!
The children are not there to entertain. They are not on display, nor are they singing alone. They are mixed into the sea of white hair, and shaking hands. They sit WITH their friends, and they make music – together.
My children glance across the room to me, with that knowing look of excitement as they see their friends come alive with the sound of music. They nod, and they clap, and they sing – with my children.
And all of the differences that would once frighten my little children’s eyes, and keep them from even walking near to say hello, are now hugs and joy - as they celebrate together. In the Big Family Room.
This is our favorite part. Not the games of checkers, or the conversations, the hugs, the recalling their pasts, or the stories – We love those…
But THIS is our favorite part. When music stirs the soul. The heart forgets the sorrows, and the mind recalls the melody.
When all of life is in tune.
Music is an amazing miracle.
Have you witnessed the true miracles of music?
Are sacrificial commitments like these, really lessons of joy, and not really a sacrifice?