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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

On Tuesday, the first men to arrive at the church fired up the grill and put the steaks on. As others arrived, the hall filled with laughter and chatter. The Methodist Men's Club had invited their sweethearts for a Valentine dinner and music. After the meal, the YesterUkes entertained with some favorite love songs. As always, we included the audience in the singing so that everyone could serenade the one they loved. When the evening was over, people left hand in hand, talking about which songs they liked best.

Later in the week, on the day before Valentine's Day, the YesterUkes brought their special brand of music to two assisted living homes. On Friday morning as we were hooking up the last mic cables at Magnolia Manor, people began rolling into the dining room. We had been here before, but this time the audience was much larger. We were told that residents who rarely came to any program were here today to see what the YesterUkes do. It took some time for everyone to be wheeled into place.

Some of the early arrivals had nodded off before the program started. Some were not able to communicate much, even when they were awake. But as the music started, it was like watching magic. Heads raised, eyes opened and fingers waved along in time with the music. Many sang along, some could only mouth the words, but almost everyone participated in some way. A gentleman on the front row used one hand to "conduct" as we played and sang. He even strummed a little "air" ukulele along with us. We later learned that he had been a choir director when he was younger.

That afternoon we moved to Morningside, where red hearts hung from the chandeliers. Florists were busy making Valentine deliveries to residents. As we were setting up, people came in with canes and walkers and settled in for our sing along. This is a generation that enjoys making music -- not downloading it. About 40 minutes later, when we had finished singing, some headed back to their rooms for a nap. Others lingered, visiting with their neighbors. As we packed up, we could overhear some of the comments: "I knew those songs." "They don't write ones like that anymore." "I remember when we used to stand around the piano and sing some of those." Music and memories -- that's what we do.

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