Encounters

I had a couple notable encounters today. First, a woman I’ve played for a few times, not one of my patients, but lives in one of the nursing homes I go to for the hospice. Usually she’s sitting in the corner of her room and her husband sits outside the door. Last time, a couple weeks ago, she sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and her husband seemed very excited that she was singing. This week, she seemed very chatty. She said “My husband’s eyes are blue” as I played that song again (because of the line “Keep the lovelight glowing in your eyes so blue”). I felt like staying for a few extra songs, so she said something about every woman crying once in her life, usually when she has a baby because she’s bringing someone new to the world, and wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in the world loved each other? Maybe we should go down the street and greet everyone “I love you I love you I love you.” She said she cried this morning because she thought she and her husband were breaking up. My favorite line, though (the one that made me laugh, anyway): “My husband brings me flowers every day. I love flowers. You know what else I love? Tomato sandwiches.” Perhaps it wasn’t such a non sequitur – she told me her father, who was a very sweet man, grew tomatoes. She wanted me to be sure that I make people happy. This lady was all kinds of full of love today.

Just after her, on the same floor of the same home, another woman I’d encountered before, also very confused and always yelling for help or a push in a very loud, whiny voice. I heard her yell “I don’t want a rub I want a push” to a nurse who was rubbing her shoulder. Before when I’d played for her she’d yell for a push and otherwise mostly ignore the harp. Today, she watched it and said in the same loud whiny voice “A harp.” Then instead of “I want a push,” she said “I want a harp!” She stayed surprisingly quiet for a while, though a few minutes later after I went to the other end of the hall, as I was getting on the elevator I heard her yell again “I want a harp!” She was still confused and distressed, but I couldn’t help but smile because the harp seemed to stick with her today.


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