Reta’s Song

Reta was one of the residents at Sheridan Manor I knew for years. When she first came, she preferred to stay in her room, choosing not to attend group activities, although she came to the dining room for meals. She loved to visit with me or anyone else who took the time to stop and talk. As her mental abilities declined, she chose to take her meals in her room, although she still loved to visit.

For some unknown reason, she started singing to herself, as she sat in her room. When she was eventually confined to a wheelchair, aides wheeled her to the lobby and other communal areas where she regaled everyone else with her songs. The following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver illustrates how Reta devoted the last few months of her life to song.

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.
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
and
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

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