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South Texas Living


Music is food for the soul




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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
March 12, 2014 | 3,762 views | Post a comment

Everybody likes music. I am sure most people remember the songs they learned when they were little kids. I still remember the words and tune to “Isle of Capri” that my mother sang to me, when I was still a toddler, and also “You Are My Sunshine,” which I learned in my childhood.

I moved back to Floresville seven years ago, when my husband Eddie went to live at the Frank M. Tejeda Texas State Veterans Home here. He lived there more than two years, passing away in August 2009. In those two years I visited him every couple of days. I enjoyed those visits so much. The men in the Alzheimer’s unit became my family, too. What I learned is that they all loved music and when they had very little memory left, music was one of the last things to go.

Music is food for the soul and spirit. I could see them mouthing the words of old hymns and folk songs from the past. I saw them tapping their feet and nodding their heads. And as I watch, I see life return to their spirit and soul. One night I put an Elvis Presley DVD on for them, where Elvis is singing gospel music, and that always brightened their faces and they smiled. I could see some of them swaying in their seats to the music or clapping their hands.

One night, I was visiting after dinner and turned the TV to an old Lawrence Welk show. I turned the sound up louder! That music livened the place up. One by one, the men began coming over to the TV area to stand and tap their feet and some even started dancing. One of the nurses reached out her arms to one of them, and they began to ballroom dance around the room. Dancing came back to many of them. Another aide began to dance with one of the gentlemen. What a night that was.

Once a month there were a couple of people that would come and sing and play old-time music for them. Pat Fox and her country band played at the veterans home a lot. That is where I first met Pat, and found out she was originally from Floresville! Eddie loved her band. She and her band “Playin’ to Win” now enjoy being the house band at the Floresville Opry.

One day Jessica, an activity director, and a tall gentleman in the Alzheimer’s unit got up and started jitterbugging. What a great day that was. That man never lost his ability to jitterbug, or as they call it these days, “jive.” I had so much fun watching everyone dance. I even got up and danced with my husband one time. I wish they had more people like Jessica at the veterans home. Sometimes she brings her guys to the Floresville Opry. You may see her dancing with them.

I wish more organizations and churches would take musical groups over to entertain the patients there. And children singing! Oh, how they love that. Sunday school classes, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops could make it a weekly project to sing for them. Remember those old camping songs? Eddie was a Boy Scoutmaster for 15 years in San Antonio and they knew so many songs; they taught us and we sang them on road trips in our car as a family. I bet those residents would love to hear those old songs.

I took Eddie home some days for a visit, and one Sunday we watched a documentary of Johnny Cash singing, from the 1960s. The singing mesmerized Eddie. He kept saying to us, “I love that music, I love that music.” His hands went up, and he beat time on his knees and tapped his feet.

Once an administrator of a nursing home for Alzheimer’s residents told me that when the residents got restless and anxious, like when it was a full moon, or there was a thunderstorm, she would tell the nurses and aides to begin singing “Jesus Loves Me,” and things would quiet down and most of the residents would be singing the words, and peace would settle over the room. They all remembered the words. Maybe we should try that when our kids get restless. Music is food for the soul.

Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at loiswauson@yahoo.com.
 

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