Saturday, March 3, 2012
Recently I had an experience playing Native American flute at Hospice that I wanted to share. I’ve returned volunteering once a week at our Hospice playing flute music and sometimes the Hang or Moyo. My Hospice experience has been going on for over seven or eight years, playing once a week when I’m in town. It began when I was asked to play for the annual candlelight memorial then I asked about volunteering there. When my partner’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis came early fall of 2010 I stopped pretty much everything to care give, without reservation. Since his passing March 2011 I had not been able to return just until a month ago. We used home Hospice towards the end.
This past week I came to play before my own grief counseling session. It is odd when I walk in now the staff and patient’s families are so happy and appreciative. I’m actually uncomfortable with the attention just try to keep my head down and nod politely. I was playing in the hallway where there is a tile floor and skylight. I like the sweet spot of the acoustics. A man leans out of a room and is listening. He is in his late 40’s probably and walks with a cane and leg brace. He stood by me for a couple of songs so I say hello and chat a bit. He works up the nerve and asks if I could go into the room where his wife is and play a song. He said she can only move her head now and will probably pass soon. I said of course. I walk in and there is her hospital bed, a chair right next to her head where he no doubt sits and a TV right at her eye level. He tells her I’m the one playing that nice music and I’m going to play for her. I sit down and just off top of my head play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” smiling at her while I do. She starts saying, “thank you, thank you” and tears flow down her face. Her husband comes and wipes the tears and he is crying. When I’m done I tell her she has a great man and kiss her forehead. As I leave there are a few nurses saying thank you to me and crying too.
Fortunately, I held my composure. I play in another wing and another man asks if I could come into his wife’s room and if I had a tape? I didn’t have one but he said every time I come she calls her son to hear it and wanted a tape for him. I promise to bring a CD next time. With Hospice you don’t know if they will be there the next week or not.
What this brought to mind is exactly why I began to play the Native American flute in the first place, and I suspect many of you as well. The sound of the flute is so peaceful and tranquil it takes listeners to that place of deep stillness where healing and reflections happens. Playing at someone’s bedside is light years away from headlining a festival, following my chart positions, sweating over bills, chasing gigs, playing in a wine bar etc. Different because there is no applause, no one asking who made my flute or what key it’s in. Not that those things aren’t interesting, but to me it is a humble reminder of the true power of this healing instrument and to play it with reverence each and every time regardless whether it is made of pine and cost $50 or made of Purple Zebra and costs $1200. It isn’t the Bling it’s the being, you who makes that thing sing. I’m interested in your experiences and thoughts about this.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Labels: native american indian flute music hospice caregive healing cancer somewhere over rainbow therapy grief