A special Valentine weekend

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By The Staff

I wanted to share with your readers a blessing that was received this past weekend as I was able to share a Valentine program at our two nursing homes and our assisted living facility.

I would hope that this would encourage others to visit the residents in these facilities. This is different from a hospital visit, because a hospital visit usually needs to be brief since the patients need rest more than they need an extended visit. But it is different in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.

When my mother, Golda Bertram, died a few years ago, she had stacks of sheet music. Younger people may not be familiar with most printed in this way, but when a new song came out it was printed in its own folder usually with a unique picture on the front. It might be a picture of Bing Crosby, etc.

Peggy Hardy was kind enough to make a background piano tape of 12 of these songs. We picked out what would be considered as "love songs" of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and maybe a few from the 1950s. Obviously, the older the person, the more likely they would be familiar with the songs. Some of the songs were ones like "Don't Sweet Heart Me, If You Don't Mean It," "A-You're Adorable, B-You're So Beautiful".... also known as "The Alphabet Song" and other songs of this bygone era.

I visited this past weekend to hopefully spread a little cheer - and ended up being blessed myself.

In each instance, the group was gathered in a meeting room and, of course, many were in wheelchairs. Some were very alert but others suffered various physical disabilities including Alzheimer's disease. I encouraged them to sing along if they recognized the tunes. Most seemed to recognize the music and, of course, began to sing along with me.

The unusual thing is the fact that some of Alzheimer's patients may not be able to carry on a normal conversation, but yet if it is music that they know they can sing with you. Thus, these were songs that most heard in their youth and seemed to enjoy singing. One or two that were suffering quite severely with Alzheimer's seemed to be able to sing every song. The patients seemed to appreciate the singing, but, of course, I feel like I received much more of a blessing from this time with them.

This is often the case when you visit someone in the hospital or nursing home. You may go for the purpose of "cheering them up" but the reverse is often true.

I learned from visiting with my mother (who also suffered from Alzheimer's disease) that she loved to sing old hymns even when she was unable to carry on an intelligent conversation.

The lady who was staying with my mother the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, a short time before my mother's death, told me that she had been unresponsive all day. But when they began playing "My Old Kentucky Home," she sat up in her chair and sang every word.

Most people would at least be able to sing an old hymn with a resident or simply have a visit with them talking about whatever they would like to talk about.

You will be the one that will receive the greatest blessing.

- Barry Bertram of Campbellsville is a retired Commonweath's Attorney.