I just received my Medicare card in the mail. I can’t use it until June 1, but it still “freaked” me out. It’s made me face my mortality. On June 24, I will turn the dreaded 65. I’ve never been one to care about approaching age, but this year I’ve thought about it a lot.
A few years ago I started looking in the mirror and my older mother and grandmother were staring back at me. Yikes!
Walking into a Senior Center for the first time
I got up the nerve and joined a senior center. When I walked in, I felt really sheepish. I went up to the lady who runs the place and blurted out, “Could you tell me about this senior center. I feel like I’m not old enough to join .” By the knowing look on her face, I think other people have said the same thing to her.
‘You won’t be the youngest one here, our starting age is 55,” she replied. (I later found out she only has a year to go.)
At the center, they play card games, majong, do crafts, and exercise. I lose at cards, am not crafty, and still do outdoorsy stuff and attend a health club where i am on the old side.
I do enjoy singing in choirs. I am not a solo singer, but I can carry a tune. Even in the worst of times, I’ve managed to keep singing.
The Golden Clefs
I had a friend tell me about a Senior choir called “The Golden Clefs” that meets in the center. I decided to check it out. Not only was I late, but I tripped into the room after mishandling the lock on the folding door that led into the rehearsal space. The director gave me a big smile and said, Come on in!”
The leader is one energetic, upbeat senior citizen. The piano player for the choir is a former professional pianist and music teacher. When she tickles those ivories, you can tell she’s not the typical choir accompanist. She smiles a lot too. The members range in age from the late 60’s to probably the 90’s.
The songs we sing are really old, but I know them all. My mother loved music, and I think of her every time we sing some of her favorites.
Serving the community
Twice a month The Golden Clefs go to some kind of nursing home or senior residence center and perform. I felt a little silly wearing my sparkly golden clef vest for the first time. I kept thinking, what would my adult children say if they saw me wearing this get up? (Would they start adjusting my seatbelt for me in the car?)
After we arrived at the nursing home, I was pleased to see chairs set up for us. I was a little surprised when I found out we had to stand up for each song. One of the choir members mentioned she graduated high school in 1946 when one of our songs, “Cement Mixer” was popular. I wondered how she was going to make it for an hour.
Once we started singing, my uneasiness vanished. Audience members knew some of the songs, and many were softly singing along. People who looked somber began to smile. A lady, bent over with some malady, got up and started moving to the music. One of the aides got up and started dancing with her. It was one of those moments you don’t forget.
Suddenly, I heard an alarm go off. It took me a minute to realize it signaled that someone was trying to get out of their wheelchair. The director ignored it, and we just continued singing.
I found out how the director had tackled the standing problem. I was relieved to sit down between some of the numbers. That’s when some choir members got up and did little solos or quartets. I hadn’t heard some of these songs in decades. They brought back cherished memories.
One lady sang “Que Cera Cera” (whatever will be will be). Doris Day sang this song, and it was popular when I was a little girl. I loved it, and remembered singing it with my mother. A quartet sang the 1958 Maguire Sisters hit, “Sugar Time”. Another group sang “Love Me Tender” by Elvis. The audience really liked that one!
After the performance was about over, the director asked the audience and choir members if they celebrated their birthday that month. Everyone got to sing “Happy Birthday” and we incorporated those names into the song. This was a big crowd pleaser. Even the most disabled audience members participated. (Who hasn’t had at least one happy birthday?)
After our concert was over, we went into the audience to talk to the residents. A chorus member mentioned to me that touch is so important to these people because when they’re in a facility, they don’t get much human physical contact. So, I made it a point to touch people’s hands and give them hugs. A lady , slumped in a wheelchair, grabbed my hand and smiled after I hugged her.
Many people told us how much they enjoyed the show.
So I guess I’ll continue with this for a while, and I’m certain the time will come when I’m not one of the youngest singers. I’m hopeful I can pick up on the happy and energetic attitudes of the members of the choir. I’m betting that when I’m 90, I’ll still want to get up and sing out.