Mom and 9 of her neighbors in Assisted Living drummed last week. Rob Wittmer, friend and tealneted musician and drummer (Toucans Steel Drum Band) offered to lead a small circle. We were both interested to see what would happen.
Seated around a table, Rob started a beat and they were off… We were all surprised when Muriel began singing gorgeous harmony to You are My Sunshine. “Let’s start a band!” she beamed. “We’ll call it the “Unmusical Band.”
For me, the big revelation was Phyllis. Phyllis lives in the room next door to Mom and I see her nearly every time I visit. She is incredibly sweet and always smiling with a tiny little voice. When I greet her, she generally looks at me or more often past me—gazing into the middle distance.
This time, when I stopped taking videos of the drumming, I sat next to her to join in. She looked right at me with a HUGE smile on her face, eyes sparkling with joy and with purpose in her face that I had never seen before—more likely, I had never taken the time to see it, so focused on Mom that I forgot to look. But Phyllis’ drumming was powerful and infectious; I think she could have gone on forever.
We had only planned to drum for about 20 minutes but as more people arrived, we drummed and sang again. When we finally left, they all stayed at the table singing. A sense of community had been created and it seemed they didn’t want it to end.
As so often happens when I visit Mom, I learned something. When I arrived to see Mom a few days later, Phyllis appeared. This time, instead of greeting her and moving on to my private time with Mother, I invited her to join us. Sitting in Mom’s room, Mom chatted and Phyllis listened—both content to be in each other’s company and me equally content just to be with them.