Friday, March 15, 2013

"When Swing Was King" -- "That WAS Fun!"

One of the "When Swing Was King" presentations this week was held at a facility which specializes in caring for persons affected by Alzheimer's and other memory impairments. We had a pretty full room (maybe 25 in the audience) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit. Some sang along; others hummed; most moved various body parts to the music (!). One lady, bless her heart, enjoys reading out loud (and I do mean out loud) every word when they appear on the screen. She obviously gets a kick out of it and, this is such a sweet and amiable group of people, everybody else seems to have fun with it too.

Also that night we were again treated to a delightful dancing performance featuring E_____ and a new partner. They danced to 3 of our 12 tunes and were in surprisingly fine form. You could easily tell that both of them had been serious "high steppers" back in the day -- and they still have a few of those steps left.  It is, of course, a bittersweet mystery how certain brain patterns remain intact even though others deteriorate so. For instance, neither one of these people can remember things or communicate verbally very much. But they can sure dance. And, in so doing, they not only had fun themselves, they thoroughly entertained the rest of us.

After the show, one of the residents felt compelled to help the lady sitting next to her find her way back to her room. But the would-be helper couldn't push the other lady's wheelchair because she needed a walker herself. So I offered to take over.

As I bent down and unlocked the brakes on the wheelchair, I decided to try and talk to the tiny woman even though I had been told she was unresponsive. However, she had a beautiful smile on her face and she certainly seemed to be watching me intently. "Do you mind if I'm the one to escort you home?," I asked. She answered, "Oh, thank you." Then I asked, "Did you enjoy taking that train trip on that last song we played?" (It had been Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers doing "The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.") Her smile broadened yet further. "That WAS fun! Thank you so much!"

It was a simple enough response, but it's another one of those that we will long treasure. In part, because it accurately reflects the attitude Claire and I have whenever we complete a "When Swing Was King" showing: that is, we enjoy ourselves immensely and we are so grateful to the audiences, to the activities directors and other facility staff, to the Vital Signs Board members who have encouraged us to develop this addition to our other ministries, and to God for blessing us with the ideas, resources and opportunities that make up our "When Swing Was King" outreach.

So yes, we too can say after every show, "That WAS fun! Thank you so much!"