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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Superstar

Photo Credit:  monosodium from
Have you ever felt like a superstar?  Maybe you earned some sort of medal, degree, ribbon, trophy, or other honor?  Maybe you did something amazing at your job, church, school, or another organization?  Maybe you conquered one of your greatest fears?  Maybe you saved someone’s life?  And maybe, just maybe, you won the bedtime battle with your children and they peacefully drifted off to Dreamland without any whining, procrastination, or groaning?  Nah.  Probably not that last one.  Good try though.

Well, I felt like a superstar on Sunday.  Let me tell you why.  My Aunt Jeanne organized a little karaoke fun for some of the family this past weekend.  Where you ask?  At a local bar?  Nope.  At a dance hall?  No again.  Well, actually it was at a hall…a dining hall…at a nursing home.  Yep.  You read that right.

My aunt has such a special place in her heart for the elderly and she wanted to bring them some sunshine and smiles.  She said that Sundays can be the loneliest days for them since there aren’t as many activities planned like during the week.  So, her daughter, Kelly, who has an amazing karaoke set-up with about a gazillion songs and several microphones, plugged in her system at 2:00 pm and the fun began.

We were all a little nervous since we didn’t know what to expect.  This was definitely our first karaoke dance gig at a nursing home.  There were about 40 people in wheelchairs just staring at us.  But, something miraculous happened when the music started.  Frail hands started clapping and unsteady feet started tapping.  And then…smiles happened, that’s what.  It was a beautiful thing.

My cousin, Kelly, has such a knack for karaoke and a deep compassion for the elderly as well.  She and I have a backstory.  Basically, we did karaoke before karaoke was cool.  As children of the 70s and 80s, she and I would place our two jam boxes close together.  We would play a George Strait cassette on one of them and we’d record ourselves singing with George on a blank tape in the other jam box.  Nashville, here we come…or at the very least, Amarillo By Morning!  I remember some Judds, Garth, and Reba too.  Oh, if we could only find those tapes!  We had such a blast, didn’t we, Kelly?  Good memories.

Anyway, my Uncle Michael played his fiddle for everyone and my other cousin, Teresa, sang a few songs.  Wow!  She has a voice that will take your very breath away because of its beauty.  Personally, I can’t listen to music and not dance, so there was also some dancing involved.  My mom and dad, my brother and his wife, their kids, and my kids all got out on the dining room “dance floor” and scooted a boot.  Why not?!  My husband would have been right there in the mix had he not been at work.  Next time, babe.

Do you know when things got really good?  No…no one danced on tables.  Guess again.  The smiles grew extra big when we took the microphone around the room.  Oh, you should have seen them!  One fella was singing along with Willie Nelson and another gal belted out Blueberry Hill with Chubby Checker.  Don’t even get me started on “The Twist!”  Come on baby, let’s do the twist...yes, there was twisting involved.

My friend, Peggy, took lots of pictures and a video, actually.  (I still love you, Peggy, no worries.)  Peggy’s mom is a resident there at the nursing home.  Her sweet mother was one of our fabulous singers.  She was all dolled up and sang Kansas City with Fats Domino like nobody’s business!  I just loved watching her.

Do you know what made me tear up a little afterwards?  My aunt told me that there was a lady there that she hadn’t seen smile since June.  Guess what?  She smiled.  THAT is when I felt like a superstar.

I know in my heart that we were there that day for a reason.  It was a unique experience…one that I won’t forget.  Our nursing home visit on Sunday afternoon was a great reminder for me.  It was a wonderful lesson of compassion and love for my children as well.  I knew it as soon as I saw one of the ladies reach out for my daughter’s hand to hold as she asked her name and how old she was.  I felt it and it was powerful.

The elderly are sometimes forgotten, I think.  It’s not easy to watch people grow older.  If we look past the things that are sometimes uncomfortable, we might see a bit of ourselves in them?  Maybe a little food is left on their chin or maybe they need to wear diapers…but if we look into their eyes, we can see a glimpse of their childhood, their teens, their adult years, and their golden years of retirement.

Essentially, they are…you and me.  Peggy’s mom sang her grandchildren to sleep for many years.  One of the gentlemen who lived there volunteered countless hours at a local non-profit organization.  I’m sure each of them has a story to tell.  They rocked their babies.  They had jobs.  They took road trips and laughed.  They worked hard and enjoyed dinners with family.  They cried when they buried a friend. 

All people – young and old – just need someone who cares.  Kindness is beautiful and friendship is a rare treasure.  Henri Nouwen has a touching quote about friendship:  “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief or bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Wanna be a superstar?  Be THAT kind of friend.  Wanna make someone’s day?  Visit a nursing home.  Oh, and don’t forget to bring your mic and dancin’ shoes because they’ll love you forever, Karaoke Queen (or King)!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

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