Author: Compton, Cliff

The Christmas Column

Sometimes things happen that are bigger than life.
It was last Christmas, and Deb Livermore, Armondo Garcia,
Chef Mike, a saxophone playing friend of Armondo’s and myself
decided to spread a little holiday cheer. Mike can sing those syrupy
Christmas songs like Andy Williams and I think Christmas
carols should be sung all year long. Armondo sings a wicked
“Feliz Navidad” and Deb looks great in a santa claus hat so…..
Deb started calling convalescent homes and convincing them that
we were the second coming of the Jackson five, or something,
and we were invited to a couple of places to play,
and that’s when we stumbled into one of life’s magic moments.

We were playing a convalescent across from American River
College in Sacramento, a nice place where many of the residents
looked about like we hope to look in fifteen years. Most of them
seemed to be in good mental health and Interested in what was
going on, and as we set up the nurses were rolling them in in
their wheelchairs, and those who could walk were hunting for chairs.
The welcome was warm, the people were friendly, and the
atmosphere was full of good tiding and joy and all of that.
And we began to play.

About the second song in, a nurse wheeled in a lady who looked
like she was on the road to glory. She was reclined in the wheel
chair, with IV’s attached and she looked like she was not there.
One of those people you often see who appear to just be waiting
for the final breath to come.

I felt sorry for her, and my guess is the rest of the group shared that
feeling, but we had a job to do. Trying to bring a little love to some
folks that probably needed it.

Mike started to sing some glorious sappy Christmas carol and he
was really doin’ it right. Smiles were all through the audience,
when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but movement
from the lady with the IV’s and the empty eyes. I saws her start
to clap and then she jumped up and started to dance, IV’s and all.
A collective gasp went up from the audience, and with concern, the
nurse sat her down, but she was not to be contained. When the
nurse turned her back, she stood back up and continued to dance.
The nurse came back in and sat her down. The residents gave out a
sigh of relief. But she wasn’t done. When the spirit moves, the spirit
moves. All of a sudden her little legs begin to churn and she takes
off at breakneck speed toward the band in her wheelchair,
and I saw Armando’s eyes get wide and heard the audience suckin’
in air…but I saw her face and I sensed what was happening. She
rolled her wheelchair right up to my feet and began to clap as we
sang, it was precious. We began to the next song, which was
“silent night” and I bent over her wheelchair and sang about ten
inches from her face, and I realized she was blind, but I looked at
those eyes and there were tears coming down, and I’m telling you
what, I’ve never been touched by anything more in my life. Just
singing face to face with that dear woman.

When the song was over. I looked up at the audience. There was
magic in the air. I looked at the band, and there was magic in the
air, and it was precious. We all knew we had been part of
something bigger than ourselves.

Merry Christmas to you all. May peace be with you. May joy be
your closest companion, and share a little music with those who
could use a little cheer.
Posted:  12/23/2011

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