I work on weekends at a nursing home in town and bring my guitar and go room to room to sing. I am always richly rewarded by the responses I get. There is a resident who is severely disabled and bedridden. All of the times I have been in her room, she was hooked up to a ventilator and not conscious. So I was surprised today when I went to her room and she was awake.
As I got out my guitar, I saw she moved to try to turn the TV off. She appears paralyzed or at least extremely limited mobility. I asked her If she wanted me to turn the TV off and she mouthed the word, "please." She is unable to talk as she has a trachea in her throat. When I started to play my guitar, she watched me with a curious expression. I was trying to find a song that she would connect with. Since she is black, I sang some spirituals but she did not appear to recognize them. I guessed her age to be early 60s but none of the songs of that era seemed to strike a chord. So I looked around her room to gain clues about what kind of songs would resonate. Sometimes residents have a Bible or a picture of Jesus or Mary and that helps me to know they would like hymns. In her room, she was surrounded by Mickey Mouse things. She had a Mickey Mouse clock on the wall and was covered with a Mickey Mouse blanket. On the floor next to her bed, I found a Minnie Mouse doll. I picked up Minnie Mouse and asked her if she wanted her in the bed with her. She nodded yes. Then I got the idea, judging by her facial expressions that she probably had some brain damage or developmental disability. I got the inspiration to start talking to her through Minnie Mouse. I made my voice like Minnie's and I sang to her the Mickey Mouse TV theme song.
"Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, Mickey Mouse! Mickey Mouse!"
She smiled and brightened with this! I saw I was onto to something. I kept singing and talking to her with Minnie in my hand and even had Minnie do a little dance for her. When it was time to go, I put Minnie into her arms and she held out her hand and I took her hand in both of mine and thanked her for letting me come and visit her. I told her I really enjoyed singing with her. We stayed holding hands for awhile. I was so moved by this experience! I have worked there nearly a year and never knew she could communicate at all. I will make sure I go see her all the time now.