A Senior to Seniors
Come on and hear, come on and hear Alexander's Ragtime Band, sang Jerry Jingles. Wheelchairs and walkers rolled toward the large room with the upbeat music of Irving Berlin's big hit of 1911. Dressed in white pants, red shirt and a white beret, Jerry sat on the piano bench strumming his four-stringed guitar and singing old songs and hymns at the Eskaton Lodge in Gold River, California.
For a little while the residents set aside feelings of loneliness or pain to enjoy Jerry's music. He delivered a little history and lots of humor with songs from Irving Berlin, Gene Autry, the McGuire Sisters, the Beatles and many more. Heads bobbed, arms swayed and voices joined in an hour that seemed magical.
"My mom sang these songs around the house when I was a little girl," a lady from the audience said. Her eyes sparkled as she sang the old melodies.
A new resident exclaimed, "I almost didn't come, but I'm glad I did. You make me so happy I could cry!"
"Music changes everything," said Carole Webster, the Activity Director. "Some of our patients in memory care who do not respond to treatment, smile and sing along to their favorites."
"That happened one day when I sang and played The Yellow Brick Road," said Jerry. "An old woman who hadn't spoken in months, maybe years, grinned and sang with me."
Jerry learned to play the banjo, ukulele and four-stringed guitar in college. "We had fun singing these old songs then," he said, "and I still enjoy singing with people my age who live in convalescent homes." Jerry takes his music wherever he goes, even to the nursing home where his 107-year-old aunt lives in his hometown in North Dakota.
Mr. Jingles closed the hour at Eskaton with the song Brighten the Corner Where You Are. That's what he did that day with his humor and music. One man stood after Jerry's last song and said, "That was wonderful. When are you coming back?"
"Lord willing and the creek don't rise," said Jerry, "I'll be back in a week."
Jerry and people from his church return to the large room at Eskaton on Sunday mornings to sing hymns, share a devotional message and pray for the residents. He takes the admonition from Matthew 5:14, "You are the light of the world," to heart and brightens the corners of people's lives for God's glory.
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