Friday, February 17, 2012

"Even the Sad Memories Are Important To Me"

At yesterday's presentation of "When Swing Was King" at the Life Care Center out in Elkhorn, we were given the same warm reception that always comes our way. The residents just love hearing the music of their youth; they really get into the pictures and commentary we provide; and they relish that someone comes to bring them something they yet treasure.

One lady was wiping away tears at the conclusion of the program and was being comforted by her friend (also sitting in a wheelchair) next to her side. The friend asked, "Did the songs bring back sad memories, hon?" To which the lady replied, "Yes, but a lot of good ones too. And even the sad ones are very important to me." She went on to tell us of many years of dancing with her husband at the Music Box and Peony Park to the same bands that we feature in the program. "Oh, we loved each other so. And we loved to dance." Her husband was a veteran who had given 20 years to the Navy. "All those pictures you showed of handsome sailors - my, my, it reminded me so of how he looked in uniform. That was so nice. Thank you so much for coming back and giving us the chance to recall those wonderful times."

This month's presentation is certainly a strong one for eliciting memories of romance. For among the more peppy songs (like Benny Goodman's "Don't Be That Way," Judy Garland's "The Trolley Song," and Glenn Miller's "Pennsylvania 6-5000"), we have a bunch of very sweet love songs: "Deep Purple" by the Larry Clinton Orchestra (vocals by Bea Wain) (it's Clinton's picture that is above left), "It's Been a Long, Long Time" by the Harry James band (vocals by Kitty Kallen), "Till Then" by the Mills Brothers, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" by the Ozzie Nelson Orchestra, "Stardust" by Artie Shaw, and "Satin Doll" by Duke Ellington. And this program includes the newest song we've ever done for "When Swing Was King." It's a version of "Cha Cha d' Amor" as only Dean Martin could sing it. And it's only 50 years old!

Because the activities director (the assistant AD, actually) was on her own yesterday, Claire and I helped to bring residents down to the event and escort them back to their rooms. It gave us even more time to visit than usual which was great. We were also impressed with a lady who was visiting a friend who came in to watch the program with her. She loved the show (she herself is a senior citizen) but what thrilled us was how she helped everyone around her get into the "swing" of things. Her contagious laugh, her pointing out details in the pictures ("Goodness, look at that hat!"), her whispered asides to draw others into the program -- she was terrific and really enriched the experience of those around her.  It reminded Claire and I of what a valuable ministry it could be for you, your church friends, or your kids to come along with us occasionally and be a part of this exciting, heart-warming outreach.

How about it? You'll find the schedule on the Vital Signs Ministries website.