"Captain America, What can I do for you?" Said the receptionist sitting at the front desk of the assisted living facility. "Yes! Oh, I also have Batman on my back!
I'm a Music Practitioner from Hospice and I'm here to play the violin for one of our patients." "Is that so? Well, she's here in the common area if you don't mind playing in an open space." I followed the receptionist, anxiously wanting to see the patient. I had not met her before nor did I know what kind of mood she'd be in.
The receptionist gave me a kind introduction to the patient, saying that I was here to play the violin for her. I greeted her with a warm smile and said, "you can sing along, clap your hands, or fall asleep. This music is for you." As she sat in her wheelchair clutching her newspaper, she looked up and said, "I suppose I'll dance then." She laughed at the puzzled expression on my face and said that she was just joking. Her sense of humor put me at ease as I took my violin out of the case and began tuning. When I finished tuning, I noticed that residents in the nearby lobby had positioned their wheelchairs in my direction. I started to get excited and couldn't help but feel that the music would be special not just for the patient but for everyone.
I began with She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain and watched as the patient marched in place from her chair. She continued on by clapping her hands and singing along. I noticed staff wheel residents into the room as they sang to the music too. Residents were drawn in and chose to interact with the music. Prior to the music, I saw residents slouched in their chairs looking into the floor, but now, I could see their eyes lit with joy.
As the music continued, staff walked by appearing curious at first yet linger to sing and clap their hands with residents. I saw people come out of their offices to listen for a few moments before going back to their work.
When I finished, I thanked the patient for allowing me to play and began to pack up my violin. She smiled from her chair and asked, Will you come back?" I paused and at that moment I thought about the time I spent in Japan playing the violin. I remember standing before the congregation of Matsumoto Abundant Life Church in Japan four years ago being asked if I would come back. Without hesitation, I said yes. I remember on my last day standing in the parking lot of Azumino Family Chapel Church preparing to depart to the airport. I tried my best but I couldn't hold back tears as I hugged the children goodbye and thanked everyone for the hospitality. From the back of the airport shuttle, I cried but resolved that I would return to see everyone again and play the violin.
"Of course I'll be back," I said to the patient. "Good. I look forward to hearing you again."