I play sing-a-longs at retirement communities. It’s usually a super easy, mellow type of gig. Lots of laughing. Familiar songs. Mrs B tells me that her dry cleaner used to have a hanging in the window that says “his eye is on the sparrow”. One lady claps along to EVERY song, whether it’s appropriate or not. There’s one lady who hates all the clapping, and tries to get the clapping lady to stop. There are two friends – an asian woman and a white lady – who laugh at that spectacle.
This week I was interrupted by a nurse who told me that nearby there was a woman who was “actively dying”, and her family heard me playing and hoped I would come sing “On Eagles Wings” for her. She loved guitar music, and they thought it would bring her some comfort.
Here’s a resource that was tasteful and helpful: Stuff You Should Know: How Dying Works
So I cut my show a few minutes short – I had another performance to be at after this one – and a nurse took me to the lady’s room. It was a small room – like the smallest bedroom of a 3 bedroom apartment in Chicago. There was the twin bed where the lady lay – I never got her name – I assume it was her son to her right, two ladies and another gentleman seated on her left. I sat at the foot of the bed. Two nurses followed me in.
I always feel awkward in the presence of grieving families. I suppose one shouldn’t be at ease in a situation like this, but you’d figure I’d get a handle on it. Lots of sad people in a confined space is… I dunno, know what I mean? Kind of overpowering. Then I played for them.
“You sounded great!”
Thanks – and I’m so sorry for your loss
I never got the lady’s name. The family has my info. She passed away that night. I played her one of the last bits of live music she heard in this world. That’s a powerful and humbling thought. I hope she liked it.
Be good, you guys.