A memory of an experience I had around twenty years ago just popped into my head and I thought I’d write about it.

I was assisting in a music therapy session, getting frail elderly patients to engage and/or participate at their level in the activity. My job was to try and animate (mostly wheelchair bound) people in the live music experience. One elderly gent sitting near the back of the room was tapping his hand to the music, so I approached him and asked if he’d like to play a percussion instrument along with the music. His caregiver piped in with the obvious and said “he’s blind”. I ignored that redundant information and placed an instrument (a hand drum) in the man’s hand and he scanned it manually and played a gentle and appropriate accompaniment to the live music. His mien and posture shifted in his wheelchair and he dug in, adding some flourishes as the verses changed to choruses. His smile was palpable. More than a mere smile, he was beaming. As the activity drew to a close he proffered his drum to me and grabbed my hand and said to me in all earnestness: “it doesn’t get better than this!”. 

Here was a man who had lost his sight, in a diaper, in a wheelchair, appreciating a simple activity whose purpose was to stimulate a rather passive and sedentary group while simultaneously providing me with grocery money. I looked him up and down while thanking him and then I noticed the tattoo….. He had survived the holocaust.

We talked a bit. His wife of fifty years had died a few years back and he was all alone. His children had all moved far away and seldom thought of calling. One might be bitter…..

Imagine if the sentence had read like this: 

He said to me sarcastically: “it doesn’t get any better than this?”

Same words….. totally different meaning.

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