Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Week Chock Full of Swing

Among this week's activities are four presentations of "When Swing Was King." That's right, four! We were at Skyline nursing home yesterday afternoon; at Pacific Springs at 1 today; at Maple Crest at 2 tomorrow and at Immanuel Courtyard at 2:15 on Friday. But even though it gets to be a tight squeeze -- we do, after all, have a lot of other stuff to get done -- we remain absolutely thrilled at the response we are receiving from this delightful mix of big band music, Power Point photos of life back in the 1940s, interesting commentary and mellow times of developing friendships.

"When Swing Was King" has been a real winner.

Let me give you just a few examples from yesterday's event. Because of renovations there at Skyline, we have been presenting the program in the old cafeteria the last couple of months. But they're finding us no matter where we set up! Yesterday we ended up with 20 residents and a couple of guests. As is usually the case, the audience is mostly female. But there's one fellow (a regular) who used to sing in a band himself and he frequently joins in with a nice baritone. He especially loved yesterday's Nat King Cole Trio and Benny Goodman numbers.

Another guy who is pretty deaf was brought over by staff to sit right next to me where the speaker is. He had a terrific time as evidenced by tapping toes, drumming fingers and a super wide smile. The gals were almost all regulars too and so our conversation as we're setting up the equipment (and then taking it down after the show) is lively and fun. Many of them get around slow and with considerable difficulty -- and yet they are more than willing to expend the extra effort it takes to get to the program. What a blessing that is to us. And a tremendous honor.

There was one incident yesterday that was out of the ordinary and it proved to be the key conversation topic of the day. It began during the middle of the program when I noticed a spider descending from the ceiling by a single strand of web very near to Claire's left shoulder. A song had just finished. I said very calmly into the microphone, "Claire, please hang on for a second. Don't jump up but I want you to be aware that slowly descending from the ceiling is a small spider that I'll need to take care of before we go on. So just sit still for a moment and, ladies and gentlemen, if you'll just give me a moment..." And I got up, went forward to where Claire was operating the Power Point and projector, snatched the spider out of the air, then returned to my place where I threw the spider away.

I turned back to the speaker controls only to notice that all eyes were turned back on me. I laughed and briefly explained that I had made several trips to Africa which had helped me realize that American-sized bugs weren't too big a deal. Nevertheless, they found this little break in the routine quite entertaining and there was a flurry of conversation about it before we could get back to the music. The ladies sitting right next to Claire were complementing her on having such a chivalrous husband...and one with such keen eyesight! After the show, a couple of the residents wanted to know more about my going to Africa and I was able to explain that I was a preacher and had been three times to Africa and to many other places for mission trips.

It was a fun day. But, like I said, every day when we have a performance of "When Swing Was King" is a fun one. And if you'd like to join in, please do. The schedule is available on the Vital Signs Ministries web site.