My first stop at the Care Home today was the Multi-Purpose Room. In the mornings, Vernon is often brought into this for room some light babysitting and entertainment. He wasn’t there, but even at 10 am, the room was rocking. Apparently the Karaoke Machine has been powered up every single morning since it was set up two weeks ago, with its biggest fans queueing up right after breakfast. Joan reports that they all sing an octave lower than they used to, but they still love singing the words. (Joan herself was once a Choral Singer, but says her voice has changed significantly since her stroke.)
I caught a video glimpse of this, but it’s been publishing upside-down. If you are up for a sore neck and a bit of fun, click here.
Now catching up from Tuesday, here is a photo of the wonderful Ketcham family (you’ve met a few of them before.) While I was away last week, both Isaiah and Justis visited a couple of times to play music in the courtyard. This time, Andrea and her daughter Beatrix joined the band. It’s always so wonderful to be in their family circle of music. I am not a trained singer or even anyone whose been complimented much on her voice, so you’d think it would be easy to be shy around them, but they always make me feel welcome to join in. I think other musicians feel that way around them too. It doesn’t matter where you fit into the group, they just love to JAM! Music and singing are good for Vernon, but it turns out, those things are good for me too!
I always make sure Carlos knows when there are musical guests, because from our first conversation, he’s expressed how much music means to him. He told Beatrix she sounded like Norah Jones, so she kindly sang one of her songs. Carlos closed his eyes and imagined she was Norah Jones, come to grace the Convalescent Courtyard with her presence. It was a great morning of song and company.
Andrea had posted a photo on her Facebook page, inviting her musical friends to visit Vernon too. Someone responded, and Andrea gave me her phone number. We had a little chat last night, and this morning, Susan and Chris, our brand new friends, brought a guitar, a music stand, and a ton of really great sheet music.
Here they are playing one of Vernon’s favorites. We know this one pretty well by now. Still love it though. Watch for the grin on Vernon’s face…it’s pretty obvious.
Carlos was in heaven. Especially after a rousing couple of America numbers. (I felt the same way when we all broke through Fool on the Hill together.) He made a point of telling us how he’d gotten his fill of music for the month. These visiting musicians each week, the Karaoke Machine, and a Spandau Ballet concert at the OC Fair down the road.
I noticed that Chris kept inviting Carlos to do a “guitar solo” whenever there was a break in a song. Carlos, the gentleman that he is, rose to the moment. I kept noticing how he aired the guitar so well, so I asked if he knew how to play.
“Oh no. I never learned.”
“Do both your hands work?” (Carlos had two strokes by the age of 49, and hand control is often part of the fall-out.)
“Well one hand works with all the fingers, and the other works sort of ok.”
He showed me again. Sure looked to me like those hands could play guitar. Carlos has got all the time in the world to learn, certainly the soul for it, and he’s really great about finding things on youtube (like lessons.) I think learning guitar would be great for him!
I immediately posted this image out to some people and got a response within an hour. This afternoon I picked up his new-to him (old) guitar that Biff at Beach Cities Rock Club so generously and quickly donated. I can’t wait to surprise him with it tomorrow!
Thank you Biff! I’ll keep you posted on his progress. And thank you again to Dave and Colleen Giddings (from Canada) who donated the Karaoke Machine to “Our Club.”
One last story for today. We had a special sitter volunteer her time at Dialysis this afternoon. To maintain her online anonymity, I’ll just call her Yoko Ono. This is her second time sitting for Vernon, but my first time seeing her in 26 years. We had gone to high school together, and although we didn’t know each other well, we share a mutual fond remembrance. Around the time that Vernon was going to be transferred from Mission Hospital last summer, she contacted me via email. She was working as a SICU nurse in NYC, but had found out about Vernon’s story through a mutual friend I’ve kept in touch with. She wrote me a couple of very encouraging emails, and though I dropped the ball, she continued to follow the blog. So when I asked for help last month for sitters in Vernon’s Dialysis, she signed up for a slot because she knew she’d been on vacation nearby that week. I didn’t get to meet her the first time, but when she signed up for today’s slot, I made a point of getting over there for a brief catch up.
May I present: Yoko Ono, Vernon, and Me!
We’ve got some pretty impressive friends. My cup runneth over.