“Are you going out to lunch?” my co-worker, Gina, asked as she poked her head into my office.
“No. I have about twenty resident assessments to complete,” I replied, unable to mask my obvious stress.
“Do you want me to bring you something?” Gina offered.
“No, thanks. I‘m not hungry.” I glanced at my coffee cup. “I have plenty of coffee to get me by.”
“You must have coffee running in your veins!” Gina exclaimed and laughed.
Fridays were always stressful days. Trying to meet report deadlines, chasing down documentation, and completing residents computerized information —known as MDS—all meant skipping lunch and spending a great deal of time on the computer. Minimum Data Sets (MDS) are part of the U.S. federally mandated process for clinical assessment of all residents in Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing homes.
After Gina left, I concentrated on my project. My mind had no place for other thoughts or interruptions. I needed to complete the MDS assessments.
As I tried to maintain my focus, I found myself distracted, not by the blare of the phone ringing, or a person disturbing me with questions, but by the sound of music: piano music. I struggled between trying to keep my focus on the reports and my curiosity about where the music was coming from. It took me a few minutes to finally realize that the music came from the dining room. Then, remembered that a volunteer always visited the nursing home on Fridays. Lucy played the piano while the residents were having lunch.
My attempt to stay focused was unsuccessful. I love piano music. Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to learn how to play piano. Today, it remains as an unfinished dream.
I stood up and headed toward the dining room. I had to see Lucy’s beautiful and disciplined fingers dancing on the piano keys, commanding the hammers to strike the strings and release an orchestra of music. I had to indulge myself in the majestic music.
I walked throughout the dining room. I observed the residents as I listened to the music. They seemed to like it as well. Alice, a new resident, especially appeared to be captivated by the music. With the mouth slightly open and her eyes centered on the piano, Alice looked blissful.
I am not the only one enchanted by the piano music, I mused.
I returned to my office to continue working on my assignment. Later that evening, before I left work, I decided to visit with Alice.
Alice was sitting in her wheelchair in the hall, observing people, and as though in a meditative state of mind.
“Alice, you look quite relaxed,” I said, as I drew closer to her.
“It’s been a nice day,” she said, smiling. “Did you see the lady playing the piano today?
“Yes, I did. That’s Lucy. Since she retired a year ago, she volunteers to play the piano,” I explained.
“When she finished playing the piano, she came to my table, and asked me if I was Alice Chambers. I told her “yes, why?” She then asked me if I remembered her, which I didn’t. She said I was her piano teacher when she was a young girl.”
“What?” My jaw dropped. “Really?” I was astonished.
“I taught piano for a while, before I went to work for a bank.” Alice said, with excitement. “I used to have four or five students who came to my house for lessons on my piano.”
“How interesting, Alice!” I exclaimed.
“Lucy said I look the same.” Alice grinned. “I honestly didn’t recognize her at first. She was just a teenager back then,” Alice said, shaking her head in remembrance of those days.
“Do you mean it’s been over fifty years since you taught Lucy how to play the piano?” I asked, with evident amazement.
“Hmm... yes, more than fifty years!” Alice said. “Who would think that that young girl who cried when she missed a note would now be a fantastic pianist, delighting me in my new home?
“Alice, you are harvesting the seeds you planted fifty years ago. The seeds of music and talent you sowed.”
Alice smiled. I left her deep in her reflections of teaching young piano students. I wished I were one of them.