31 Days of Giving, Day Seventeen: Memories

Memories can be a curse or blessing. Memories can be a wonderful reminder of the past like a warm gentle breeze, or a time of despair. During the holiday season, along with some very talented colleagues, we provide holiday music to seniors living in retirement communities. As part of ELM’s Day of Giving Program, I have been visiting several senior facilities in the greater Lansing area.

Each visit reinforces for me the power of music. As we begin performing for the residents I am always struck by the response that stirs in their hearts and souls. I watch seniors request songs that take them back to a happier time. Perhaps it is a song from World War II like “In the Mood” that reminds of their first date or sending a loved one off to war. Sometimes it is a song from the 1960s like “Venus” that takes them back to high school and those carefree days. However, I am most struck by the “quiet ones.”

Recently we performed for a group of about 30 residents. Seated directly in front of me was a woman I will call Alice. Alice arrived on a walker before settling into a large chair. For the next hour and half of music, I did not see any response from her, sitting there with her eyes closed. As we started playing Christmas songs I began to see a change in Alice. As we played a beautiful rendition of Silent Night I saw that the song had taken her to somewhere in the past. She began quietly crying with tears softly creasing her cheeks. As we played the last note, I looked at Alice. For the first time that night we made eye contact.  As she wiped away the tears, her eyes locked onto mine. In that instance we each said thank you for sharing this moment. She then retreated back into her world.  I had just received one of the best gifts of my life.

– Ron Tatro, Vice President

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