Thursday, January 29, 2009

and the word of the day is...CAP

January 29, 2009 cap

On Tuesday we loaded our mom into the van and took her on her daily outing. Sometimes we go to Bukoos or the 5 Hour Store. Sometimes we’ll go see the birds at the Bird Refuge in Farmington Bay. Sometimes its just a ride to a nearby canyon. Twice a month our outing includes a Heart and Soul gig. Mom and Lib will visit in the car and wait for me, 45 minutes or so, while I am singing to a group of people who cannot get out to enjoy live music. Janna, the angel behind Heart and Soul, calendars a number of musicians from the Salt Lake area to visit nursing homes and care centers, mental units and schools for the disabled. It's a good thing.
Tuesday I was at a Senior Assisted Living Center in the Fort Union Area. After years of visiting a different Senior Care center twice a month I can testify to the diversity of care facilities on the Wasatch Front. Some places are just lovely, with clean floors and fresh paint or wallpaper and a hair salon and library and employees of the month in nice wooden frames posted in the lobby. Some are more humble. Old renovated houses with a living room lined with a variety of plush recliners, like the furniture section of DI. I evaluate immediately the pleasure quotient in my singing experience when I enter a building and take a whiff. Of all the factors that would change the way I feel about a place for people to live, smell would top the list. Old and clean and friendly can work for me. So can new and clean and friendly. But old or new, if it doesn’t smell clean and it isn’t friendly, I have to pull out my “I Am a Good Christian” card and put it in front of my nose to get through the gig. I tell myself that these people probably did not pick this place, someone picked it for them, and they should be entitled to the same music everyone else enjoys. When they’ve left me in a room alone with 35 Alzheimers patients and not one staff person, I say to myself “There, but for the Grace of God, go I, and wouldn’t I enjoy hearing some sweet music even if I didn’t understand the lyric?”
Tuesday’s gig was at Canyon Creek Senior Care; new- clean- friendly. One of the top-of-the-list places where if I had to arrange for someone I love this might be it. They had a beautiful dining room with cloth napkins and menus on the tables, with a bank of large windows looking out over evergreens loaded with the fresh snow of Monday’s storm. I could smell dinner cooking in the kitchen and thought maybe I should stay the afternoon. There were around 20 people seated at various tables, all fairly astute and well groomed but painfully quiet. “Hello!” I said, in my loud assisted living voice, trying to stir up some energy in the room. They smiled, and one gentleman asked how I was doing. It took all the way through Old Singer Sewing Machine and How Great Thou Art to get to the place where their eyes met mine. Just before Pontiac Rocket, a short, slight fellow with a nicely shaped beard and a U of U Baseball cap came into the room. He sat facing me straight on, nodding with each phrase as if he were testifying. “Indeed, that is what we had in our grocery bag, too!” And, “Oh yes, I remember those days before radar guns.” He sat there, his white and red baseball cap bobbing forward and back as if we were in deep conversation, only I was doing the talking and he was doing the listening. Every audience needs a Mr U of U Baseball Cap; someone who confirms the best in us and encourages us to give more; someone who hears exactly what we mean to say and shows us he hears; a hoot and a cheer in silence, saying “yer doin’ good dear, keep a goin’!” I fell in love with this man in three and one half minutes of time. Funny how easy it is to love people who love us first. Funny how that goes.
After the songs were done and my guitar was snug in its soft gig bag; after I had shaken the hands of the fellow by the window and the lady in front of him, and the line of ladies over by the piano, I made my way to the U of U Ball Cap.
“You are baseball fan?” I asked.
“Don’t know the first thing about it,” he replied with a smile then a giggle. ”Just liked the cap!” He took my hand in his and held it for just the exact right amount of time. Like he was giving a blessing without oil.
As I walked out, leaning to the side to balance the gig bag slung over my shoulder, I formed the words of a silent prayer for the ball cap gentleman. That University of Utah baseball team would be awfully lucky to have him in their stands.

(Heart & Soul Website:


  1. Good one Cori. I have always said that knowlege is somthing we learn in books and sitting in classrooms. Wisdom is what we do with that knowledge. We should continually look to the older people for their wisdom, like the guy with the cap. Just do him one favor, and give him one that says "Steelers" on it. If you need help on this, call me. I want that guy on our side.

  2. I can relate to this line:
    "I have to pull out my 'I Am a Good Christian' card and put it in front of my nose..."

    How wonderful that you can make it around to all those places and shine a light into their lives.

    Lori, a.k.a. SpaceAgeSage

  3. This made me happy! I to have seen alot of Care Centers and I've been to Canyon Creek (and Canyon Rim). I know that even the quiet patients with Dementia understand you with their hearts. Especially your music which speaks to the heart.

    I hear you about every audience needing a guy in a baseball cap. When I was telling stories at FAC there was a little boy who kept asking, "What happened next?" He and jack laughed at my funny voices and they just made my day! Its so much easier to perform for people who love you. Makes you want to smile at the ward chorester doesn't it?

  4. It must be a turbulent time in your life when The sun begins its final descent and shadows begin to loom. The world that you once held in your hand now cradles you like an infant. The fog may cloud your mind and the sands of time may erode your body but the soul prevails unscathed and the sounds of your beautiful music ring loud and clear to these souls. This is truly a blessing.


  5. You got me. You got me good. My mom is in one of those places - a really nice one. But sadly, she is not the man in the cap. I hope that she doesn't really know where she is, that she's sitting silent and helpless all day long, through all those long hours without the productive work that she loved all her life to do. I worry about the man in the cap. If the rest of them are silent, who does he talk to? But you are so right - and every darn one of us needs an audience in our lives - somebody to witness the things we put our hands to, somebody who can answer the unasked but ever present question: "Am I doing okay?"

    Here's a funny thing - you realize that you gave him back as good as he got?

  6. Loved it Cori. What a blessing you are to many as you share your gift of music and writing talent. I remember when you moved into our ward and you were the first to be friendly when it should have been me welcoming you.
    Love to you and your family from London.

  7. I know God is blessing you for all the sweetness you bring into the lives of others. You are a breath of fresh air (funny since you wrote about 'smell', huh?). Have I told you lately how much I adore you? There, I said it again ...