Where Words Fail

by cindy

Our visit was brief, just a day or so.

Each time we appeared at his apartment door, he was surprised to see us. It was not until we mentioned having been there the day before or even earlier in the same day, did he remember.

He is confused, angry, frustrated and very, very sad. Our visit cheered him but the respite is temporary. He doesn’t want to be old. He doesn’t want to be diminished. He doesn’t want to be in that place. He doesn’t want to be anywhere without my mother. He simply does not want to be.

We are told that many of the residents have no visitors at all. Ever. And that, I suppose, explains why we are viewed by some with curiosity, by others with caution. Were it not for the chatter of the nurses and aides, trying to engage the residents, it would be a very quiet place. To carry on a conversation can be challenging at best.

When a local musician appeared for an evening of jazz, however, down the hallways they came, shuffling behind walkers, in wheelchairs, on motorized scooters, with canes. At first glance, one might think this was a “captive” audience, but upon closer inspection, one would see each person listening with great intent. Some listened with soft, wistful smiles. Some with heads nodding gently to the beat. Or some, like my father, directed the music with the slight, graceful movement of aged, weathered hands. All of them seemed to let the music transport them back…somewhere…perhaps with…someone.

We left Dad that evening with a sense of peace.

Hans Christian Andersen said it best:

“Where words fail, music speaks.”