Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Simon Falk, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Mary J. Giese, Peter Nena and myself.
I am a firm believer in the healing power of creativity whether it’s in the form of art, writing or music. Music has always been a part of my life, although I am totally tone deaf and can’t play or sing a note, I grew up with music in my home and it’s still a big part of my life. Growing up I had musicians in my family and our weekends were often filled with friends, family and music. My Grandmother lived with us and although deceased, stories of my Grandad’s musical endeavours were a told with gusto. Now I’m married to a musician and true to tradition most of our get-togethers revolve around music. Although listening to music is very different from playing music, I think music triggers something in us, it has power, it brings alive memories and transforms us.
I came across this video a while back and it resonated with me. My Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s twenty years ago. She lived through WWII in London, married my Grandad, the love of her life and had two beautiful daughters. Although I never met Grandad, through her stories I felt like I knew and loved him. Some of my earliest memories of my Grandmother revolved around music, she would dig out her old vinyl records to play the songs my Grandad performed and she would always end up singing and dancing. By 2003 the Alzheimer’s had progressed and our family had no choice but to place her in a nursing home. Most days my grandmother would be non-responsive and no longer recognised us. We would visit regularly and often the home would host a music night for patients where an oldies band would come to entertain. We would often visit on these nights. As soon as the first note was played my grandmother sat straighter, took notice and for the first time in a long time…smiled. Then when the singer would start, my grandmother would jump right in and sing along. She was happy, she still wouldn’t remember us or even my grandad’s passing, but remembered the lyrics to almost every song. It brought her back to those days listening to the love of her life on stage. As family members, we mourn the loss of our loved one’s memories; they forget almost everything and everyone, both the good and the bad. Throughout life she had endured more than her fair share of tragedies but what rang true to me that day was perhaps this disease was a blessing in disguise. Gone were the losses and hardships and her good memories were accessed by something as simple as a song. Although she passed nine months ago, seeing her smile those nights was perhaps the best gift I could have ever received, it reaffirms that sometimes during difficult times there are always hidden blessings if you look for them.
For more on how Music and Memory helps elderly residents and facility patients, to volunteer or to donate iPods, please visit www.MusicandMemory.org Get FREE resources on the project! Volunteer an iPod drive! Find a local facility you can help!