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Music Magic

It is 6:30 p.m. as the phone rings! I quickly glance at the display which shows « York Manor ». Immediately, I have a feeling of guilt because I have not been able to see Rina for the last three days, due to a bad cold. But the staff and I have an understanding; if anything serious develops, they call me!
I recognize Debbie as she says: “Clarence, I thought I’d give you a call. Rina is having a bad day. She did not touch her supper and she is not responding to our efforts to pull her out of her sad mood”. As this behaviour is very rare, I reply: “I’m coming right away!”
Rina is my wife, my life companion. Although we met only in 1997, we realized we had so many things in common that we decided to share everything we had! And we did, until that fateful day of July 2006 when she was victim of a stroke causing a haemorrhage at the base of her brain. Survival in her case was a miracle, thanks to the skills of the surgeons and hospital staff, but it left her with diminished skills, the frontal lobe having been damaged severely. Her symptoms are similar to Alzheimer patients, making her eligible for the special unit at York Manor called the Atrium, where she is a resident since August 2007.
As I came into the Atrium, I found Rina walking by herself, a very sad look on her face, oblivious to any attempt to attract her attention. When she saw me, however, she stopped as I reached for both her hands, but without the big smile she usually reserved for me! I tried to start a conversation with questions like “What’s the matter, dear Rina”? … “Are you sick”? … “Do you have pain”? … all of which brought no response. Finally, with a bit of a smile, I asked: “Are you mad at me”? This time, she responded: “No, but I have so many things to tell you”! Thinking I had started some reaction, I said: “Tell me about it”. But Rina could not go on!
Realizing I would not get anything more, I walked her to her room where I closed the door and tried to get her attention in a positive manner. Her brain was just not responding! After ten minutes of stories and jokes, I decided to try something else. Opening my cellphone, I chose some music that I knew she liked, and watching her very closely, started playing while holding her in my arms.
It took a few minutes yet, and then I observed her hands starting to beat the tempo of the fiddle music she was obviously listening to. The beat became more and more expressive and soon her two arms were waving widely to the tempo. As I looked straight into her eyes, I saw she was smiling and happy again! But it did not stop there. Rina now wanted to dance! And so we did, following the beat the same way we did before she became sick.
To finish this trying episode, Rina and I danced together toward the lounge, where Debbie and other staff members greeted us with a huge smile, knowing that Rina was back to her old adorable self.
Such is an example of music magic!

Clarence Landry