Friday, December 02, 2011

Christmas Gifts at the Nursing Homes

Earlier this week I wrote about the very hectic (but eminently delightful) occupation in which we're involved this December; namely, 16 presentations of the Christmas edition of "When Swing Was King." I even posted our songlist for this edition and the remaining schedule in case you'd like to come along and enjoy it along with the residents of the respective nursing homes and assisted living centers. We'd be thrilled to have you -- and so would the residents and staff.

We're already underway with three Christmas showings and we've had a great time. More important, so have our audiences! Among our most treasured Christmas gifts so far?

* Meeting a U.S. Army soldier whose 4 years in World War II service included the battle for Okinawa. He was really appreciative of the program and explained how the pictures and music together reminded him of listening to Armed Forces radio when he was overseas. I thanked him for his complements and for his sacrificial service to the cause of freedom. I also said, "I thank God for bringing you home in one piece." As he walked away, a lady who had told us earlier that she had served as an Army nurse in the Pacific theater, teared up and said, "That's what we worked so hard for -- for boys like him to come home in one piece." What an honor to bring a little entertainment, a little bit of their youth to people like this.

* Meeting a 97-year old whose life as a medical professional was enhanced by also having several songwriting successes. He offered me a CD of one of his songs which I played for the whole audience before we got started with the program. He also sang another of his songs, a very moving love song, for Claire and I. He too loved the "When Swing Was King" presentation and said, "That's sure when music sounded like music, huh?" Another cool thing was that several of the residents, as they were wheeling themselves past us and thanking us for the program, made sure to thank this fellow too and complement him on his song.

* Playing with two dogs who hang out at the nursing home we visited in Fort Calhoun on Tuesday. They were both very affable and good-natured and I said as much to one of the residents. "Oh, they're always friendly to people who give them cookies. But they're friendly to strange people too." Well, I didn't have cookies on me so you know what category I fall into.

* Watching audience members wipe away tears while listening to Frank Sinatra sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and Donald Mills of the Mills Brothers sing "O Holy Night." It is also deeply touching to hear several of them singing "White Christmas" along with Bing Crosby in the finale. Wonderful.

* Hearing a bit of applause as I surprised Claire by grabbing her and doing a little dancing while the Glenn Miller Orchestra played in the background. We thought it a rather comic event (which it was!) but for these dear people, they thought it sweet enough to want even more!