I made a grown man cry today. Perhaps I should feel bad about it, but I don’t.
Today, I visited my mother at the “center” which is her word for the nursing home. I do not know if she has a psychological dislike of the later term, but center is what we have called her home for six years. One of the churches donated a nice reasonably new spinet organ to the center and I’ve tried for months to get mother to play it. It has been somewhat of a source of consternation for me since it took a considerable number of “lessons” from me, which she is sure she didn’t ask for, in order to get her reasonably adept at the sound settings. Finally, with that task checked off and a small bag of music that she could manage with her wheel chair prepared for her, I felt reasonably secure knowing she would enjoy playing the organ on a regular basis. WRONG! Days later, she told me there was too much going on in the living room where the organ is located and that she couldn’t bother folks. My mother is a great musician and I feel sure people would love her playing. I finally learned from my probing questions that even one person in the room is too many for her to play. Luckily, my son suggested I get earphones so that Mother could play the organ without anyone hearing her. We practiced the plugging in and removal process for the headphones and I felt she was on her way. WRONG! Days later I discovered she still wasn’t playing. It was then that I learned that not only did she not want anyone to hear her, she also didn’t want anyone to see her playing. My terse response to this was to explain that I didn’t have a shroud to make her invisible and she explained that she didn’t need a shroud because she wasn’t dead.
For some unknown reason, when I approached the organ playing today, Mother was amenable and although she used the earphones, she didn’t worry about being seen. She did, however, lean over to me several times while she was playing to ask if I could hear her. I explained that all the sound went to the earphones when she plugged them in. “Well,” she said, “you didn’t tell me that part!” I tried not to make a face.
After Mother finished playing, she agreed to let me play without the earphones. After a while, a man rolled up behind me and I could hear him talking about his daughter who plays the pipe organ. He explained that he was a preacher and she had been his organist. I quickly changed from the tunes I was playing to hymns and then I heard the therapist with the man say, “please don’t cry.” This 92 year old said, “it’s just so beautiful.” It was all I could do to keep playing. After several hymns, he asked if I could find a peppy one, which I did, and he and my mother commenced to sing along. Every once in a while he would shout out “halleluiah!” and I would pretend I was used to this response. We closed this impromptu concert with The Old Grey Mare (yes, I know that isn’t a hymn) and everyone in the room sang along. I promised the man that we would come look for him the next time we played the organ and he and my mother both assured me that neither of them was going any place.
So, I DID make a grown man cry today and I hope I can do it again. The blessings of an elderly preacher stimulated by strains of Amazing Grace brought joy to all of us at the center.