Friday, July 22, 2011

Tender Moments Abound --- A "When Swing Was King" Update

They were sitting in the front row at yesterday's presentation of "When Swing Was King," he in a red chair with his walker parked along the wall, she in her raised wheelchair right by his side. Kathy turned out the lights and Claire brought up onto the screen the first Power Point photos. And as the music of the Glen Miller Orchestra started playing in that packed little room on the third floor of the nursing home, the old fellow reached over and held onto his wife's hand. So they sat throughout the entire program.

It was very touching. It was even more so when he slowly approached me afterwards with tears in his eyes and thanked me for bringing the program to them. "That was just wonderful," he said in almost a whisper. "It brought back so many memories. When are you coming back again?"

Lindenwood is one of our favorite places to present "When Swing Was King" and we're so pleased that it's one of the many places that have us in every month. One of the reasons is Kathy, the activities director who has become a good friend to us, but we've made a lot of other pals there too.

But yesterday was something special.

Maybe it was watching Lyle dance the rumba (though still in his chair) to the music of a Xavier Cugat song. Or hearing Sy's booming bass voice singing along with Bing Crosby. Or having Don tapping his hands on the chair arm to Count Basie, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman as he sat beside me.

Perhaps it's the two ladies who ask me after every song, "Is Frank Sinatra up next?" Or the enthralling smile and light in the eyes of Betty who lays in a wheeled bed and always wants to be as close to the screen as possible. Or the freedom the audience feels in asking us questions even while the program is in full swing. And then there's the warm welcome we receive, the pleasant banter and conversation while we're setting up our equipment, and the intense thank-yous we get when the music finally stops.

Of course, it's a combination of all these things that makes Lindenwood so delightful and moving an experience. But it was that couple holding hands that most touched our hearts. Thank You Lord. May the love that Claire and I share with one another prove as tender and as lasting as what we saw yesterday.

This afternoon? Well, among a few other things, we've got another of our every-month "When Swing Was King" gigs down at Brookstone in southwest Omaha. I wonder what treasured experiences await us there.