Friday, February 25, 2011

The Pianist

I'm having trouble with words. That's just a warning.

I am emotional. I cry when I feel something. I love people. I especially love older people. These factors make me an emotional wreck when an older person that I love dies.

This particular lady was a wonderful person. She always called me "Lisa," since it seems that "Liz" never stuck with her. I was proud to be Lisa; I was consistently Lisa. This little lady would always wink and point her finger at me when she'd see me walking down the hall. She did this to everyone, but I like to think that I was special to her. At the very least, she was special to me. 

And oh, did she play the piano! She was wonderful! I can honestly say that she is the sole reason that I played my violin this last year. Occasionally, I'd play for a little bit with other musicians (friends), but she is the reason that I have played publicly since leaving the orchestra. We mostly played hymns, but I can tell you that I always felt God when she'd play. I sensed her passion; she inspired my own. 

She was very forgetful, given her age, but she never forgot who she was. Her Bible was worn and usually opened to one passage or another. She was constantly looking for the piano, and she reminded me all of the time of how we needed to play another duet together. This woman gave me purpose! She loved me-- I know that. What an honor it is to be loved by a person, eh?

I wish that I could write her name here. A beautiful lady needs a name. I'll never forget it.

This will be the first funeral that I attend, aside from family. I have experienced death at the nursing home before, but never like this. She was a friend; she was a person I pictured when I questioned the work I do.

This isn't a pity party. I am so blessed to have known such a wonderful woman, and I am glad that she is no longer suffering. It was painful to watch her decline. I feel like I need to "publish" my own tribute to her... I can't keep how much she meant to me to myself. It wouldn't feel right. 

Lucky for you, readers, right? I hope that you all love your grandparents. What wise people we have in our midst. Please don't overlook them.

This is a poem I wrote about my friend last semester. I dug it out tonight. I know that sometimes my writing can appear to be rather crass, to some people, but maybe with knowing how I feel about this woman, the words will appear more sensitive than perhaps some may read them.

The Pianist

She, a pianist, sits down at the bench
by the piano, when she remembers it’s there.
Her back is hunched crookedly over the keys,
and her feet barely reach three brass pedals,
the padded shoes and Velcro hindering
her already slowed movements.
Her shiny, metal wheelchair sits next
to the wooden piano in stark contrast.

In her trembling manner, uncontrolled,
it is surprising how she tames
her knobby fingers and brittle bones
to follow specific patterns. I think she is forgetful;
after all, from what I know of music, the notes
on the dog-eared pages should match the sounds
I’m hearing. She turns the pages during a pause
in the music and her eyes follow the bars,
but I can tell that she’s not actually reading along.
I suppose her muscles remember what her mind
cannot. Truly she is an accomplished musician.

Thanks for reading along. This was part of my bad couple of days; I've had a lot weighing on me. Waiting for someone's passing is a difficult place to be. I am sad and relieved. 

This is for you, dear. Thank you for your many wise words and brilliant music. 



Lillian said...

Liz, my mother passed away in 2003, it was one of the hardest days of my life. Another one of the hardest days was to make the decision that her needs had outstripped my abilities and we needed to move her to a nursing home. One of the things that sustained me was the knowledge that the nurses and aids at the nursing home genuinely loved my mother.

She read her bible regularly, even though she couldn't see it anymore because of macular degeneration. She knew what was in it. Nevertheless, there were times when she would ask an aide to read one of the psalms to her, they always, gladly did. She frequently sang hymns, usually off key and out of tune. I'd walk in and hear it coming down the hall, and it wasn't uncommon to find an aide or nurse in her room singing with her.

Because of people like you, with a real love for elderly people, I could rest, knowing that my precious mama was in good hands. You are a hero to me and to the family of this dear lady. As much as she touched your life, you may never know how much you meant to her! I promise you, you meant the world to her.

Just in case her family forgets to tell you, I will say it, thank you for making time in your life to be there for this precious saint.

KMcda77793 said...

Liz, that was wonderful. You made me cry.

Mandy said...

How beautiful. I think you were both lucky to have crossed paths, and you both benefited from your relationship. <3

Gwiddle said...

I wish that my grandmother would have had someone like you to be friends with while she was alive. The world of nursing homes truly need more people like you. My grandmother spent the last 2 years of her life in a nursing home in Canada. During her stay there we discovered that a male staff member had been physically abusive to her. It broke my heart. I think it is so beautiful that you formed a friendship with her. The elderly are so often shut out from the community, not to say this is on purpose. I myself admire you for working in a nursing home. They are one of the hardest places for me to go to. I'm so sorry about the passing of your friends. What a great tribute you have made for her though. AND dammmmn girl you can write! Beautiful poem♥ I hope you have a good weekend and that life starts to look up soon my dear!

Anonymous said...

They all will touch us in some way and their wisdom is carried on through us......always remember that. She was special

amyschmamey said...

You are very blessed to have known this lady. People like this make us into better people.

la petite lydia said...

I am glad you were able to know her and that she had an impact on your life. The world needs more people like her.

This blog post was so beautiful. It made me think of my Nana.

Heather said...

Of course... I'm crying right now. I am crying for your loss. Crying for your joy in knowing her. Crying for how much I miss my "oldies" and for what it is to be a part of someone's life... and more than that--the very last days of that life.

To know that somehow God cares enough about you (and her) to have allowed your paths to cross in such perfect timing. I can hear her playing. See her fingers as they move across the keys..and I can definitely see that look in her eyes... the look of disappearing in her music as she "reads" the music... finding her peaceful place in the midst of the negativity and complacency surrounding her in that environment... My gosh. I am so happy and so sad.

And I didn't even know this woman. But in a way I did.

I had my friend. I laughed with her in her room as she showed me "how dancing was supposed to be" and forced her to put on a dorky 4th of july hat that i knew she wanted to wear anyway... and i showed her how to get back to her darn room everyday bc "we keep adding extra hallways or something" haha

The last days are so absolutely beautiful. And these ppl have experienced life in a way we will not understand until we are the cute and crazy ones their age. I cherish their stories. I love them. I will not forget them.

Thank you for reminding me of the joy it brings me simply knowing how blessed i was to know her. And all of them.

biscuit said...

This is unbelievably touching and chilling. It truly takes one to know one and I can imagine that you will be one involved in changing the life of another in the same way.