Last week I was orienting at a new medical facility. One side has a long term care unit. I was asked to sit in the dining room with 3 residents. Two elderly ladies and one elderly gentleman sat around the table in wheelchairs. I tried to start up a conversation so as to lighten up the mood. Its not exactly an overjoying place to be in.
The two ladies both spoke Spanish but I only understand and speak English. So I turned to the gentleman and asked him how his day was.
He slowly turned to look at me and gave me the evil eye. Then proceeded to shake his head no and went about finishing his ice cream. Alrighty then….
A few minutes later another nurse came in and started talking to the ladies and the man got quite irritated. I tried to get his attention away from what was bothering him but he was having none of it. The other nurse was obviously uncomfortable with the man glaring at her so she got up to turn on the TV so they could listen to the music stations. She was looking for the Spanish channels.
She was flipping through the stations quite fast. The man paid no attention to the music until the nurse went past the jazz and blues station he got the most bewildered look on his face as she kept flipping through as fast as ever.
“Cam, turn back a few channels would ya please?”
She looked slightly annoyed but complied with my request. I don’t know if there are even words to describe the peace that instantly came over the man. I thought he would never look anything but mad and annoyed. I was wrong.
As the song played, he got the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on a person. A tear started to fall down his cheek. His whole body relaxed. He was practically in another dimension at this point. I know that music is one of the most powerful forms of communication. I know how it moves my soul most times. But to see his reaction and his body’s response to the music was something even more…maybe because of how drastically changed his demeanor was. In a place full of sadness and despair and infection and diseases, its rare to catch a glimpse of something so pure. Yet so simple…. Just a song that brought this man back to when he was in his younger days.
Another song began to play and my group was leaving the floor to go to post conference. We said our goodbyes to the ladies. The gentleman looked right at me and quietly but genuinely said, “Thank you!” Cam asked him if he was happy now and he nodded with a smile on his face. That smile got even bigger when I told the CNA that he should play music while the residents ate dinner. The CNA agreed to pass that on to the rest of the staff.
From what I hear, the gentleman is still smiling and is now enthusiastic about going to eat his meals. To a nurse, as well as anyone with a heart, that is awesome to hear. Something so simple and yet it’s taken for granted by many. The simple things truly make all the difference in the world.