As I was unpacking, I noticed an odor and asked the ladies if they had had sauerkraut for lunch. One said they had broccoli, which explained the smell. She said, "You'll either smell broccoli or carpet glue." New carpet tiles were installed a few weeks earlier and some had to be glued the day I was there. Lucky me: I am so sensitive to chemicals! I was there for nearly an hour and felt some buzzing in my head when I left. Once outside, I did deep breathing in the fresh air and hoped for the best. My fingers weren't working normally when I started playing my next session an hour later, so I mentioned the carpet glue to my group to explain my lack of coordination. A woman asked if I felt like I had been on a 30 day drunk. I said, "I haven't been drunk like that." She said, "I have."
I often have people sleeping during my sessions. A woman was more alert than usual part way through a session and said, "You girls can take off your shirts now." Another woman quite definitely said, "No." I said, "That would be interesting. How about a jig?"...and started playing.
I noticed a new woman in a recent group and introduced myself. She moved closer to me to tell me her name. She said she was moved in by her family while she was on vacation with a friend. She expected her friend to take her home when they returned to Fargo, but the friend brought her to this memory care facility. She needed to talk about her story, so I listened. She said she played piano, and I asked her to play a tune. She's a good pianist!
I was beginning a session when a woman walked up to me and said that they needed this space back. I said I would play some tunes and then they could have the space. She wanted to know how long I would play and said, "We had school, then this. We need to get home and rest." She was quite bothered that I was in the space but then walked away. I wondered if she taught school at some time in her life, or if she was remembering an earlier time when she had long days as a student. (At a seminar this fall, I learned that as a person's dementia progresses, they see themselves as younger and younger. They often don't recognize themselves in the mirror and say there's someone in the room with them. They might not recognize their adult children, because in their mind, their children are still very young. They might also confuse an adult child with their spouse, because that child resembles their spouse. I find this so interesting...)
I wrote earlier about a woman who has been my cheerleader for well over a year. She has had rapid changes recently and sat at the last session with her head down. She had no response to the music or our discussions. It was sad to observe the changes, but I know they are part of the process. And I know the music still reaches her.
A woman wanted to walk me out after a session. She began to guide me toward the hallway to her room. I told her I was going to my car and pointed to the door. As I was being let out, she wanted to come with me. She was told that this is her home now, and she seemed fine with that. As I walked away, I heard her tell L, "She is so cute."
I play in a very large multi-purpose room in one facility. My group sits in one corner, while residents are active in other areas of the room. As I was playing, I noticed someone's legs in the air across the room! The chair was so high that I couldn't see who was sitting in it, but she was doing some exercising as I played. She spoke loudly when I stopped playing and wanted more music, naming a couple tunes. I only heard her voice and saw her legs during that session! It was very odd.
A tenant I've known for nearly two years used to tell me at every session that she played violin and piano. She would ask about my violin and the case, and she loved singing hymns. Lately she hasn't been interested in my music at all. In fact, she recently asked what I was doing there. When I said I would be playing the violin, she said, "Ick" and walked away!
I was a couple minutes late for a session today, due to detours to avoid waiting for a very long oil train. When I came up the sidewalk, I was greeted by one of the ladies. She saw me as I was walking across the street and came out to welcome me. I remember how surprised she was a few months ago when she recognized me. She kept saying, "I recognize her! I know her!" She likes to sing many of the old hymns and recalls most of the words. She is usually smiling as I play and sometimes claps before I finish playing! She is delightful.