sing me a song. OK, I said. What do you want me to sing?
Esther responded: Sing Because He Lives. But Esther,
I protested, I dont know that song. Well thats the
song I want, she said. But
Let me tell about my friend Esther. I am a performer
who is on a mission to bring joy to older adults. I perform at nursing and assisted
living facilities throughout the country. When I moved to North Carolina in 2001,
one of the first places I performed was Spring Arbor of Hickory. One of the first
characters I met was Esther. Esther became my designated heckler at
Spring Arbor. Any story I would tell, she would give me that look, shake her head,
roll her eyes, in short telling me that I was full of it. Well of course I gave
it right back to her. And that is how we became friends.
Fast forward to 2005 when I received a call from Sherri,
the activity director at Spring Arbor. Esther was in the hospital and insisted
I go visit her before or after my next performance at Spring Arbor. I agreed.
You see a funny thing happens to you when you entertain at these facilities. You
make some wonderful friends. And you grow close to them, check in on them from
time to time and take an interest in their life. Esther was one of these people.
Well I entertained at the facility that day and then
Sherri and I went to visit Esther. Of course up until now Sherri only gave me
selected information. Now on the way to the hospital I found out that Esther actually
had died and was revived the week before and was now in the intensive care unit.
Oh, I thought, and she wants to see me?!
I entered the room and her eyes lit up, totally ignoring
Sherri and just about paying attention to her daughter. Esther starts flirting
with me to the amusement of her daughter. Mother, she said, hes
a married man! Oh well. Our banter continues and of course she insists I
sing her that song that I dont know. I sort of dodged that and sang her
Nat King Coles Unforgettable an appropriate song for Esther
I thought. We visited a while longer and I kissed her goodbye. Her daughter took
me aside and told me that I would never know how much my visit meant to her and
her mom. I didnt think a whole lot about it.
That is until I got to the parking lot and it hit
me that something profound had taken place. That I truly was crossing the line
from just being someone who brightened up the days of seniors to someone who was
somehow purposefully linked to their lives.
I told Esther I would learn that song for her and
I did. And then I made a recording of it in my studio. I sent it to Esther who
was safely back at Spring Arbor and it was a huge hit with her and the residents.
As soon as Sherri put the CD on, and without Esther knowing what was on it, Esther
immediately knew it was me singing to her. They tell me she played it over and
over again. I was happy that she was happy and healthy.
At least that is what I thought. I next heard from
Sherri just a few weeks later that Esther was in hospice care and that my CD went
along with her. Then Esther died.
I went to the funeral. I walked in and as soon as
her daughter saw me she started crying. She had not broken down, people told me,
until she saw me walk in the door. She asked me if I knew about Esthers
last day of life. I didnt. She told me.
You see the whole last day of her life, my CD was
playing. Over and over, Esthers favorite song, Because He Lives
played again and again with me singing. Esthers daughter started singing
the song with me into her mothers ear and telling her to let go.
Esther died a short time later.
Of course I started crying as well as she told me
I have accomplished a lot in my performance and singing
career. Yes, I never hit the big time, well not yet. But I have won some songwriting
awards from Billboard, been featured in songwriters showcases in New York,
entertained at resorts and casinos and even was once considered for a recording
contract with Capital Records.
But the biggest musical accomplishment in my
life so far, maybe my biggest accomplishment period, was helping Esther pass from
this life to her eternal reward. I doubt Ill ever top it.