During the fifteen years I worked as a music therapist in a nursing home, I met some interesting people, and Reta was one of them. She preferred to remain in her room except for meals and politely refused when I encouraged her to participate in group activities. She loved to visit, though, and if I let her, she’d talk my head off. But over the years as her dementia grew steadily worse, she took to singing. She sat in her room or in the dining or other communal areas and sang and sang and sang, oblivious to her surroundings. She thus inspired the following poem which was published in Serendipity Poets Journal in December of 2002.
RETA’S SONG
She sits in her wheelchair day in and day out,
singing the same song over and over and over again.
The tune is the same.
She makes up different words as she goes along.
Sometimes, her words make sense.
Often, they have no meaning.
Unaware of what goes on around her,
she just keeps singing that same song
over and over and over again.
There was a time when she didn’t sing,
not even when someone else was singing.
She’d talk your head off for hours.
She didn’t keep singing that same song
over and over and over again.
She has changed.
She no longer talks your head off.
She sings it off.
When spoken to, she responds mostly In song.
The words are different.
The tune is the same.
She just keeps singing that same song
over and over and over again.
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Author of We Shall Overcome
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