A man handed me a mask. Next, he took my temperature and asked a series of questions to make sure I felt good. Afterwards, I walked past the coffee nook and the woman at the piano.
My mind was thinking about getting registered. That’s the preliminary action before going to the lab. It’s what most cancer victims do every six months to keep a check on cancer cells in the body. We want to find them before they grow. It can happen to anyone, and it can happen fast.
I signed in and sat down in the registration area.
Sometimes I get too busy trying to juggle schedules, people, and tasks. But here, on this day, I began watching people in need. I became aware of others and what was going on around me. One or two names were called. I focused on the man and woman across from me.
He had his eyes closed, and his head was moving from side to side. He was swaying to the tune being played on the piano. The man smiled and seemed to absorb the music. The woman next to him was speaking about the music, but he did not respond. His head continued to sway. He seemed to not hear her.
I tried to listen closer to the music coming from the entry hall. It dispersed the gloom and doom of the cold day.
It might be described as elevator music, calming music. I didn’t recognize the piano piece, but it felt like a waltz—or wavelets on a rippling pond.
My name was soon called. I quickly answered questions and was registered. Next, I was directed to the lab.
Instead of turning left, as directed, I decided to turn right. The pianist could be gone when I came out of the lab! I did not want to miss talking to her.
She had given me a gift—the gift of comfort.
I sat on a bench and waited for her to finish playing The Sound of Music. If you don’t know that piece, imagine wafting breezes with a special lilt, making you want to soar upward.
When she finished, she looked at me and smiled. I stepped over and introduced myself.
“Hi, my name is Pat. You play beautifully. I’m headed for the lab where they’ll poke my arm with a needle. But you. You gave me a gift today. Because of you, my spirit is calm. I just want to say thank you.”
“It’s my honor. I’m here every weekday from 10 a.m. until 12 noon.”
“You mean you play every day?”
“Yes, I play on weekdays. If I can’t make it, someone else will be playing.”
“I’m pretty amazed. You have a gift, and you are giving it away every day to people who are hurting, scared, and worried. A God thing. I guess you know that.”
“It’s my ministry to people,” she said. “I wanted to give music to those who must come to the hospital. My big surprise is that it ministers to me, too!”
Her name is Jeannie Alley, and she is giving the gift of healing music.
I salute you, Jeannie. I thank you.
Jeannie Alley. Photo taken by Pat Durmon at Baxter Regional Medical Center, Mountain Home, AR, April 9, 2022.
Poetry Books by Pat Durmon