“You know, you bless us so much by coming. You make us feel normal.”
This was said to Claire a couple of nights ago by one of the ladies at a senior care facility that deals exclusively with dementia and other memory loss issues. It’s one of the 12 facilities where we present “When Swing Was King” every month. Claire, not surprisingly, was deeply touched by the woman’s kindness and appreciation. For although we know the people in our audiences are, in fact, quite special, we’re also aware that for people who must deal with pain and loss, who are carefully watched over and cared for, who understand that they no longer function as they once did, feeling “normal” can be very special indeed.
The same lady, one of “When Swing Was King’s” most enthusiastic fans had held my hand earlier in the evening and told me, “When you guys come, you take away the loneliness.” And then, because she holds firmly to the belief that both Claire and I grew up in her neighborhood, she added, “But you kids have always been nice.”
Later on we received a couple of other endorsements but these were from unexpected sources. One was from a family member of a resident who wasn’t even in our audience but he had come in and sat down behind the fireplace where we hadn’t noticed him. Before he went back to visit his loved one, he made a point to tell us, “You folks have a very good program. Very professional. I liked it a lot.” And, as he expressed that complement, he was seconded by a fellow who had been painting the walls in the hallway behind the utility room where we had set up. We ended up speaking with him for awhile as he praised the quality of music and the interesting stuff we shared about the musicians. He even thought I should do a radio show because “you sound just like a disc jockey.” Fun stuff.
Oh yes, one more tidbit from last night. Before the program started we were, as usual, visiting with the residents who came in early. One lady asked Claire, “Are you with this program tonight?” As Claire pointed first towards me and then her computer in front of the projector, she answered, “Yes, my husband there is the talent and all I do is push these buttons.” (The talent line, by the way, comes from a private joke we share going all the way back to my first trip to Burkina Faso). Anyhow, the lady smiled, patted Claire’s hand encouragingly and said, “Oh, I’m sure it takes talent to push buttons too!” Of course, she’s right!
My, my. What a time we have with “When Swing Was King.”