the girls hadn’t wanted to sing at the assisted living center. we go every year, they said. we want to do something different, they implored. and so december plans were made and the christmas caroling was not part of them.
but as they do, schedules were jostled and another tuesday night snuck up on us. one of the older girls had mentioned that singing at the home was her favorite activity all year – and so we found ourselves holding bells and wearing santa hats on a dark rainy night.
we entered, cautiously, as people are prone to do when dealing with the elderly. i was reminded of visiting my grandparents. i’m not quite sure why we fear it, or why we are uncomfortable. there was no reason for that.
eager faces greeted us. some were already seated at the table where a puzzle was halfway complete. other residents trickled in. assisted by wheel chairs, canes and walkers. with one of our girls at the piano we began to sing.
we weren’t polished, nor were we well-trained. but none of that mattered in that little living room among strangers. they were an appreciative audience, smiling and crying. several sang along. one gentleman squeezed between me and the piano to sit in what he called the king’s chair. he put his head back, closed his eyes, and smiled as we sang.
his name was frank and he had taught school. he interjected several times between carols. always politely. asking what church we were from. with watery eyes he thanked us repeatedly for sharing with them and bringing the spirit.
afterward we mingled. one gal told us to come back anytime. i asked what our youth group could do with them, perhaps they’d like to tie a quilt? oh no, she said, i don’t do that! but i do play bingo! she pulled out the schedule and it looked like bingo was a daily event. she invited us to join them at the community center fridays when they play for money.
ruth, wrapped up cozy with several scarves gripped my wrist. we talked about our families being far away. i wondered who comes to visit her.
i complimented esther’s outfit. she was dressed fancy, just like my granny would have been. i was sad to leave them but grateful plans had changed bringing us there that night.