I remember one of the first times I went to play in a nursing home on the Alzheimer/Dementia Unit and one of the residents repeatedly said, “I want to go home. I want to go home.” In time, I would ask residents where home was and received a mixed response. Sometimes I was greeted with a story about their past and other times, residents appeared confused while continuing to say they wanted to go home. Last week, however, was different.
I walked into the room of the Hospice patient and the caregiver said the patient had been awake all night unable to sleep. Before setting my violin down, I watched the patient toss and turn in the bed wondering who was there. Hearing the exasperation and exhaustion in her voice, I walked over and told her I’m back to play the violin for her. She said she was up all night and hoped the music would put her to sleep. I told her I’d try my best.
I played Moon River and she began to sing along. She tried to sit up in her bed but couldn’t so she looked up towards the ceiling while she sang. After the song, she asked if I could play softer. I played closer to the fingerboard and turned my bow so I used less hair. I tried to play as sweetly as possible and hoped she’d find rest. Although she tossed and turned in her bed she said, “I always enjoyed your music…I want to go home...I don’t like this place.” I almost asked where her home was but before I could she said, “I’m ready to go whenever God is.”
I didn’t know what to say except that I would come back again to play. She then said, “hopefully I’m not here anymore. I’m ready to go whenever God is.”