One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain! ~ Bob Marley
My first experience with music therapy was when I was completing a unit of clinical pastoral education with hospice way back in 2003. The positive impression that was left on me from that experience is still prevalent today. So when the phone rang the other day from a good friend from St. Louis alerting me that a violinist wanted to come to the house and play for ‘TLO,’ I jumped at the opportunity.
One of ‘TLO’ great love, is music. Growing up in New York, and living in Manhattan, TLO loved going to Broadway shows while enjoying the Arts and Culture that the city that never sleeps has to offer. Thinking about a game of trivia that is focused on Broadway shows and opera, you will want ‘TLO’ on your team! I have had the pleasure of watching him stump some of the great minds in music when a question or two would come up about a particular production or piece of music. I know my place when the conversation turns to Broadway, opera and music.
Violinist Joshi Portuondo-Dember with ‘TLO’ at our Silver Serve Luncheon
One of the frustrating aspects for ‘TLO’ during his recent bout with cancer and the subsequent radiation treatments has been his lack of interests in some of his favorite hobbies, especially music. Always one to turn the Bose stereo on high to listen to one of his collections of CD’s, ‘TLO’ has not had any interest in listening to his music for quite some time now. However the opportunity to have someone play live for ‘TLO’ was just too good to pass up, even if the logistics were a nightmare. Even with last-minute notice, I was going to do my best to make this happen.
Caregivers will certainly understand how frustrating multi-tasking and juggling schedules can be while trying to make multiple things happen at once. That was my plight when this kind offer came in for ‘TLO.’ With 70 coming to our monthly Silver Serve luncheon on the same day the violinist wanted to come to our home, the window of opportunity was short in order to make this ‘concert’ happen. However, we solved the logistic problem by inviting the violinist to meet us at the Silver Serve Luncheon where not only did the Violinist play for “TLO,” he wowed the entire group with his splendid violin music. It was a win/win for everyone!
Those who know ‘TLO’ well know that he is not shy about sharing his opinion, in fact, I have often wondered why he never was a critic for the New York Times! Yet this one-act of kindness simply bowled him over. “I have to admit that I really enjoyed the violinist: That was so kind of him to play for me” TLO said. “I was pretty amazed too,” I responded
Kindness comes in a variety of ways. Our friend Bob in St. Louis knew that ‘TLO’ would enjoy a ‘private’ concert. Bob connected us with Joshi; Using his gift and talent in music, Joshi (who was visiting from Boston) went out of his way to bring a sense of happiness and joy to a man whom he had never met. “I understand your partner is ill with cancer, I want to come to your home and play music for him so that he might feel better,” Yoshi said to me on the phone that morning. I will never forget his initial phone call!
Yoshi’s random act of kindness reminded me how important it is for all of us to share our talents with each other. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of our Caregiving experience that when something that is so unexpected happens to us, we are caught off guard. I’m not sure we will ever cross paths with Joshi again, yet I do know that he has left an impression on us that will last a lifetime.
Because in the end, only kindness matters!
You see, We might have Cancer But Cancer does not have us!