Friday, October 07, 2011

A Celebration of Life -- In Two Acts

Yesterday's audience for our "When Swing Was King" presentation at Life Care Center was really terrific. With Kathy back as the Activities Director, we can be assured again of an enthusiastic welcome and a big crowd. She and her assistant Martha are two of our very favorite people. But among that company too are several of the residents at LCC, friends that we made from the days my Mom lived there.

For instance, there's Rita who at 95 still loves to sing along with practically every song we play. And Janet, who though considerably younger than my Mom, was a sweet friend to her. She had asked for a picture of Mom to remember her by and Claire gave her one yesterday. And I certainly must mention Glen who is one of Omaha's biggest fans of "When Swing Was King." Glen was a Navy gunner in a bomber during World War II. And last night I made a mini-poster from a photo I found on the internet of a Vega Ventura, the plane he flew in. I'll frame it and take it over this afternoon after we finish another "When Swing Was King" at nearby Immanuel Courtyard. I know he's going to get a big kick out of it.

We had perhaps our biggest crowd ever at LCC -- 29 residents at one point. And the roster of #1 hits we had pleased them to no end: Glen Miller's "I Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train," Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra performing "In the Blue of Evening," the Benny Goodman Quartet (photo above) with their huge hit, "Moonglow," Nat King Cole's "It's Almost Like Being In Love," Dinah Shore's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," Jonny Mercer's "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," Vaughn Monroe's "When the Lights Go On Again," and 5 others. We had a blast.

And then, after warm-hearted conversations with several staff members and residents, we finally started to leave. But there was one more great moment in front of us.

It turns out that one of the temporary residents of LCC had finished rehab and was getting ready to leave the place. And at LCC, that means something really neat. The announcement is made over the loudspeaker that so and so is being "discharged." And at that announcement, a boom box is turned on playing "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. Staff members who are free start to circulate down to the main entrance to say their congratulations and goodbyes. But they don't walk down -- they dance! And, I gotta' tell you, the sight of nurses, aides, therapists and even the director of the facility getting into the joy of a patient's successful care was a blessing we will treasure forever. Great going, guys!