Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Spoons (or The Lesson)

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way. - Doris Lessing
Have you ever had an experience where you thought you were helping someone, but later come to realize it was actually they who were helping you?
So this is the story of my friend Mary (I have changed her real name). I work with the elderly, as a Music Therapist. What is a music therapist? Well, I could give you a very formal definition, but I won't. Instead, I will tell you what I do. Basically, I have made a career out of trying to brighten people's day... to brighten their day when they struggle to find their value or when they feel the most alone in life and the most helpless. I help them see and find beautiful memories and talents they still possess.
The first day I met Mary, she confidently strolled into the music room pushing her walker. With her sparkling, bright blue eyes this 90 year old lady turned to me and skeptically said, "So, you are going to teach me music, are you? You know, I had a very accomplished piano teacher before I moved in." And so we began...

First, we strengthened her left hand's piano playing. Drilling note names...and hand exercises. And the weeks passed...

And Mary would ask,"Now, What are you going to teach me?"
Then, we worked on both hands playing together...And more weeks passed..

And Mary would ask, "Now, What are you going to teach me?"
Next we worked on perfecting the performance of favourite melodies...

But then her eyesight began to fade...
And playing the piano hurt her hands and did not bring her any joy...

And Mary asked,"Now, What are you going to teach me..."

Four large silver spoons I proudly displayed before Mary.  Smiling, I said,"I stole these from my mother-in-law's silverware drawer. This is what we will learn to play today."

And over an hour slipped by with the clang of silver spoons accompanying soft Nova Scotian aires.

With the end of summer, Miss Mary's health deteriorated and she had to be hospitalised. I was told she would not be returning. But she did...

And miss Mary said,"I know how much you need me." And quietly, she whispered, again and again,"I love you so much. I love you so much..."

My dear friend passed away last week, a month past her 92nd birthday. 
And I see was I who was learning.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sweet Things (or Little Boy's Plastic Knights)

It is the sweet simple things in life which are the real ones after all. - Laura Ingles Wilder

Happiness, I believe, is found in the little things in life...things that you might rush quickly by and not even notice.  We have all heard the expression, "to view the cup as half empty or half full,"  but, I think it is much more than that.  I think there is significantly more "good" around us than we notice. Somehow, we let the short comings of our day fill our heads...and let the small sweet things slip by.  So, I just wanted to share one very small thing that made me smile today...
Currently, My children are studying the middle ages.  We have filled our shelves with wonderful books to learn about the era.  We have already read Beowulf (with and without coloured pictures), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beorn the Proud (about the Vikings), A Single Shard (about a medieval potter), Famous Men of the Middle Ages, Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages and now we are on to the Trumpeter of Krakow (about medieval Poland).

There have been many sweet things this school year (and even this day) but one of the sweetest was seeing my littlest one engrossed in learning a very long history documentary with the desktop covered with plastic knights (Perhaps all people would love history more if they had their very own set of plastic knights, too). For him, history is not a boring subject...but a story... and he was actively trying to learn every line...and re-enact his favourite parts.
 When a friend later asked him does he like school? I quietly smiled when I heard him eagerly reply, "Yes, I do! Do you?"

The end!