Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Special Day at the Nursing Home

Yesterday held another wonderful time spent at the nursing home! I love going there. When first starting back in January, the actual process of going and beginning to play was hard for me and I was quite nervous . . . for some reason, playing music in front of people has always been difficult for me and going into a strange place with people I didn't know, to be the 'center of attention' was intimidating! Yet once I was at the piano and interacting with the people, I loved every moment of it . . . and now it is easy to go. :)

Yesterday afternoon, as I punched in the familiar key code to enter the nursing home and stepped through the door, my heart thrilled with thankfulness for this opportunity as I looked out across the room and saw the familiar faces. One gentleman that I see nearly every time was sitting near the door. When going over to greet him, he asked me in his deep, slow voice, if I came to play music again. He was glad to hear I was! Moving from person to person with a smile and a 'hello', I made my way to the old piano and began playing.

The room where the piano is located is one very large room which has the kitchen, dining room, sitting area, and a craft area. There is kind of a half wall in the middle which is where the piano sits. Then the hallways back to the residents' rooms extend from the large central room.

There were many people around yesterday (including kitchen staff clearing away tables) and shortly after beginning to play, there was a little group of sweet ladies in wheelchairs up by the piano. Some were ones I had already started to get to know, others were new to meet.

I played for them, and then sang some, too . . . which is another thing that at first, was not exactly easy for me. I do not have the greatest singing voice and have a lower range so typically sing alto, and with others. But a month and a half or so ago when residents were trying to sing along, I gave myself a little 'talking to' that it didn't matter what I sounded like or what the nursing home workers thought, but to just sing! And I have been each time since, and it has been so nice as the residents love to hear it (they don't care what I sound like :), and they love to sing along when they know the words. And I so love hearing their voices join in as we sing "Amazing Grace", "How Great Thou Art", and other songs together!

Yesterday as usual, between songs, I would talk with them, listen to them, laugh with them, and share about Jesus with them . . . since I am playing hymns, it makes it easy to begin talking about the gospel, Christ's death and resurrection, and salvation. And for the most part, their hearts are very receptive to hear and talk about these things.

One particularly special thing that happened yesterday was with a lady that I have seen just about every time I go there. She is usually sitting in her wheelchair somewhere in the dining room with an expression on her face that is sad . . . but something more, too, that I can't quite put my finger on. I always smile at her and greet her to which she has never had any response. This week, though, she began clapping after some of the songs! Then afterwards when telling the residents goodbye, I went up and spoke to her and she took my hand in both of hers and thanked me for playing. We ended up talking together for a bit, and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about that special moment with her!

What a great blessing these people have been to me . . . the joy many of them radiate, their genuine thankfulness for something so little as someone playing the piano for them, the smiles on their faces, the care they have for one another . . . I have learned much from them and have been so blessed by them!

It has been very special to begin developing relationships with them. I always greet the ones I know by name, and then try to learn the names of residents I had not met before. After the first several times of going, I also started a journal of sorts with the names of the residents and things that I learn about them.

C. for example loves riddles! She asks me the same ones each week :), and I always act like I don't know the answers and then laugh along with her when she tells me them. For example . . . Q: "Why do hummingbirds hum?" A: "Because they don't know the words!" :) She also really likes "Amazing Grace" . . . and sang along for the first time yesterday!

E. is a sweet lady that I have spoken with at length a couple of times, and she is a believer in Christ. What an encouragement it has been talking with her! I feel bad for her, though, as each time I see her, she tells me that her husband is coming to get her to bring her home and how much she is looking forward to going home again. She seems happy, though, and her love for Jesus and others radiates from her!

R. is another lady that I talked with for quite a long time one day . . . she has a sad family story and is trying to trust God through it, but it is hard for her. My heart ached for her as we talked together! I shared a number of things with her and some Scriptures in the hopes of comforting and encouraging her, and at the end, told her that I would be praying for her and her son . . . I do not think I will ever forget the expression on her face nor how tightly she squeezed my hands as she thanked me.

There are others who are within my journal pages, and I look forward to adding more as the weeks go by. And I still need to learn the name of the gentleman who greeted me at the door! This time as I was leaving, he got up from his chair, walked over to me with his cane, shook my hand, and again in his slow, deep drawl said "You're getting better, keep it up!" :)

9 comments:

  1. So thankful for you and the blessing you are to others! ♥

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  2. How lovely for those residents to enjoy their time with you, Sarah. I am sure the music resonates in their hearts. I know how our local 'Memory Cafe' group like to sing along with the old songs, some of them wartime ones, but all bringing back memories.

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  3. I don't think we will all be "on key" in heaven either. All that's required is to make a joyful noise!! :-) I know you are a blessing and encouragement to those in the nursing home, but it is those who give, I think, who receive the greatest blessing. Some of the stories are sad, but they now have something to look forward to that brings them much joy ~ a sweet young lady that comes to play, sing, listen and share a little love with them. I couldn't help but giggle at what the gentleman at the door said :-)
    God bless you, Sarah,

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  4. AnonymousMay 22, 2015

    Hi Sarah!
    It's been years since I visited. It's so great "seeing" you again, and seeing how you've grown as a person. I for many years have taken care of the elderly and have carried a burden for them in my heart. Reading this post prompted me to write and tell you that I know exactly the joy, comfort, and satisfaction you get from visiting the nursing home. It is such a blessing to be able to show love to others.

    Take care,
    Kandis

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  5. Thank you, Joy, for your sweet comment! I am so thankful for you, too, and the example and encouragement you have been to me!

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  6. Thank you for your kind comment, Elizabeth! Your 'Memory Cafe' group sounds special . . . I can well imagine how much they would enjoy those songs and especially with bringing back all the memories. I find that these dear folks love to reminisce about the past!

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  7. Your comment made me smile, Mrs. Anne! What you shared about 'making a joyful noise' was the very thing that “E” and I were talking about together one day! (she told me she can't sing well either. :)

    Thank you for your sweet words . . . they were a blessing to me! And yes, I think you are right that those who give receive the greatest blessing. While I might be the one giving the music, the residents give so much back to me!

    His comment gave my family and I a chuckle as well. :) It warmed my heart when he said it!

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  8. Welcome back, Kandis! It was so good to hear from you again. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! And such a kind one at that. :)

    What a great blessing you must be to the elderly that you care for! I can tell just in your words how much you care for them and love them. And I am sure they are a blessing to you in return!

    Yes, it definitely is!

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  9. With what you use your voice for, your talents is certainly off another plain. I can only imagine how gratifying it is to play to a generation at its twilight years, bringing music and a bit more life to their quite nursing homes. And you are certainly bringing them back in style. Thanks for sharing!

    Paul Fiscus @ Maplewood of Sauk Prairie

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)