“It’s not what you like but what you are like that’s important.”
—Nick Horby, High Fidelity
Vernon may not have much music in his life at the moment, but apparently there are other kinds of music therapy, such as talking about it to someone who is interested in music too.
Carlos is one of the first residents I met at the care home. I was fascinated by him, mostly because he was on the young side and able to wheel himself around. I chatted a little with him on one of our first days, and learned that though he was only 49, he’d already suffered two strokes. The last one put him in a coma and eventual rehabilitation. He spoke very slowly, but clearly, and told me that it was singing that had helped him speak without a stutter. I suggested inviting musicians in to play accompaniment or even bringing in a karaoke machine so that he and some of the other patients might be able to enjoy singing together. He loved the idea, and still asks about it from time to time. Sadly, I haven’t succeeded in either of those things.
As Vernon and I were hanging out in the courtyard today, Carlos wheeled by and I noticed he had a rubber bracelet on his wrist with one of Vernon’s fonts stamped across it. I asked him to show Vernon, and he obliged.
I’m not sure Vernon’s eyesight is good enough yet to recognize the lettering, but when I told him it was Pacifico, he knew that he had indeed designed it. “I can’t tell what font it is,” he admitted, “But if it’s Pacifico, I made it.” (That’s a good spot of recent memory right there, I’d say.)
The bracelet reads “Freeways on Sundays,” the name of the band in which Carlos’ nephew plays bass. Carlos then went on to bring up this video (of the band doing a Coldplay cover) on his phone so that Vernon could have a listen. It was really great to see the guys interacting, although Vernon thought the nephew was actually in Coldplay.
“I LOVE Coldplay!” Vernon exclaimed. “They are my favourite!” (This would be the first time I’ve heard this, by the way…)
Anyway, the banter continued between the two men. Soon Vernon was telling Carlos about The Fall, another band the music reminded him of (I guess.) Carlos hadn’t heard of them, so he looked them up and played a song. The shared names of singers and bands back and forth and talked about different styles of music for a good half hour out in the sunshine until Vernon was pulled inside for Occupational Therapy. It was the longest I’d seen Vernon chat with someone else about one thing and they were obviously both enjoying the connection.
Here is Carlos sharing one of his favorite songs with us. Next time, I’ll ask him to sing louder. I loved hearing his voice.
Vernon said it himself: “That’s Amazing!”
And speaking of sunshine, I must say that Vernon looked fantastic in it today.