What inspires me?

Well, obviously singing and playing piano inspires me. But, there is so much more.

Today I was singing with the clients in an Adult Day Program. Today hit me pretty hard.

There is one particular client who has been coming to the program for over a year. She has declined remarkably.

A year ago she was full of life. She would dance, mostly. She loved to mingle and engage with everyone….she seemed to always enjoy herself in the activities.

It started about six months ago…..a slow but steady decline.

She has been looking tired and her hair has somehow not been right. You can tell she hasn’t been able to take care of herself like she use to.

She has started to have moments of sadness and confusion. She can’t sit still and enjoy the activities that everyone is doing. She needs to walk and explore every crevice. She doesn’t communicate with anyone.

Her name is “Jan”. She is only 56 years old.

That’s right. She’s one year younger than me.

“Joe,” another client with the program knows that Jan is struggling. He touches her on the shoulder and smiles at her. “Do you want to sit in my chair?” he says. She looks at him with intention, but decides to move on and explore the hallway.

The music continues. Everyone is having a nice time…..except Jan. She is just not sure.

My mind wanders to Jan’s husband while I’m singing my heart out with the clients.

I don’t know her husband, but he arrives right on time to pick her up.

I smile at him and tell him I think Jan had a nice time today. I hug Jan and let her know I look forward to seeing her soon.

I know it’s going to be a rough night for her husband.

I share this because it’s real.

People are living these situations every day.

She really was listening….

I have told many of you my story before. I started singing for the elderly when my grandmother, who had dementia, was in a nursing home. I would regularly visit her, and we would sing our favourite songs together.

Sometimes, however, grandma was not in the mood to sing. I always felt a little disappointed, but I would sing all our favourite songs anyway.

I assumed grandma wasn’t listening. She certainly seemed to not be listening.

I would often mention to the staff, on my way out, how grandma was doing. Either “she was singing and smiling up a storm today”, or “no, she wasn’t in the mood for singing today.”

Then the nurses started noticing that actually I was wrong….she was singing today! They said that quite often on the days I would visit, she was happier and more engaged than she had been previously in the day.

This was so encouraging for me! All I really wanted was to make grandma happy. And I was, after all:)