Put me in a home already
Hi! Great to "see" you - thanks for stopping by!
I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my adventures singing in retirement homes. I never really found the idea appealing - after all, how would I connect with rooms full of people who were twice my age? How could I possibly choose music that would speak to them and let them escape the day-to-day of their lives for an hour? And then, in 2018, my grandmother joined the ranks at one of these homes. So, Walt and I played for an hour, and the residents loved it. Mostly they loved Walt, but he'll tell you otherwise so you decide what's true. I had planned through the autumn that year to set something up for me to play some regular shows there once the new year rolled around (we were working insanely hard to prepare for our Christmas show at the PPAC in late December, so it just made sense to wait). And then, unexpectedly, I ran out of time to play shows for her, because she passed away in the beginning of December. I was heartbroken for losing her, and I felt terribly guilty for not having scheduled or played any more shows while she was there in that place. It took a while to sort through all that and realize that my guilt shouldn't stop me from trying to bring happiness to others, even if I couldn't bring it to her. And so I decided it was time, and I owed it to my grandmother to try to be a bright spot in some lives that might need a few more bright spots.
And so I did. I plucked up the courage to schedule some shows and away I went. I worked on my set list, choosing songs that I hoped would spark something in the older generations. I sold my big sound system and bought something that I could actually carry around. I mentally prepared myself to perform solo, a thing which I have not done with any regularity since about 2009. Scary.
Turns out, it's really fun! These people are my people - just looking for a good afternoon and can appreciate a well-written song even if it doesn't make them want to jump out of their seats. It took a little while to get over my nerves (yes, I get nervous because I want to do a great job), but every place I went, everyone was so very kind, so it didn't take long. I've been singing around town now for about 8 months, and I look forward to every job. I have met some really sweet people, some who meet me all over again every time I'm there, some who like me but beg me to bring Neil Diamond along next time (true story), some who might not be having a very good day but still show up to let the music lift them up a bit. I've met all sorts of people. And one of my favorite things is sometimes, when I finish talking with a resident, a nurse or a visitor will approach me and ask I if I know that that woman was a Rockette, or that man was a pilot in the war. I love the humbling reminders that all of these people, most of them in wheel chairs, some of them unable to communicate, some of them sleeping all the way through the show, are all people with pasts, with families, with achievements, with mistakes. They are all people that I am lucky to be serving, albeit on a small level. It teaches me to remember that everyone has a story, no matter how young or how old, and that taking people for granted is just...foolish.
Love to you,