Almost every Sunday for the past 4 years we have gone to The Homestead to sing for the residents. We joined another family that had been doing it for sometime while their mother/grandmother was there. That family wonderfully still joins us even though their loved one passed on a long time ago. The problem is, all our kids are growing up and leaving home so our numbers have dwindled dramatically. At one point between friends and family we got maybe 15 or more of us singing. Ahh, those were the days. Now we are feeling lucky if we have four. We have mostly sung hymns with an occasional folk song or something thrown in. One resident early on always requested You Are My Sunshine so it has become our closing number every week even though that resident passed on quite a while ago too. We find that almost all the residents perk up for that song. They sing along and clap their hands in rhythm. Sometimes most of the residents appear to be sleeping through our little performance but more often than not, they wake for Sunshine. Sometimes they mouth the words in their sleep. Today John and I got there a little earlier so we were filling the time with whatever we could think of to sing. John was being quite silly and making up words to songs. He also sang some British songs from his childhood. Those usually baffle the residents but today's made them smile. It is apparent that they really do like the folk songs.
One of the current residents has requested old songs we'd never heard of before so John got them off the Internet to learn them. They like those too. I smiled today as one man who hadn't been paying a lick of attention the whole time suddenly lit up and sang along with one of those old songs.
Today someone suggested She'll Be Comin' 'round the Mountain so we started in on that one. That may have been our biggest hit yet. One woman who is often unhappy and worried about many things stood up and started swishing her skirts and stepping back and forth like she was doing a square dance. Another man started bouncing in his chair and moving his arms like he was leading the wagon. Everyone sang along and enjoyed themselves.
It is nice to make lovely harmonies with the hymns and there are some residents who really do love those. I noticed today that my mom was sleeping (or appeared to be) but was tapping her hand in rhythm to the hymn we were singing. But as nice as that is, it was also great to sing songs where we couldn't really remember the verses quite right but everyone had a smile on their faces. It is wonderful to see life in the resident's eyes. For just a little while they might forget their discomforts and frailties and just have joy.