Sunday, December 12, 2010
I heard music playing as I was walking down the East hall. I stopped for a moment to listen.
♫ Why can't you see
What you're doin' to me
When you don't believe a word I say?
We can't go on together
With suspicious minds ♫
Elvis! I thought, as I opened my eyes widely.
“Where is the music coming from?” I asked Julia, a nurse assistant who was walking by.
“From Ms. Reid’s room,” Julia replied. “She loves Elvis.”
“I like Elvis too!” I exclaimed, grinning.
The music was captivating. It carried Elvis’ delightful voice through the air, a wisp one does not want to miss.
I can’t just walk by! I relented as I turned around, and headed directly toward Ms. Reid’s room.
Except for Elvis’ crooning, Ms. Reid’s room was a place of solace, decorated with Elvis pictures and ornaments. A large CD player sat on her bedside table. Ms. Reid was sitting in her recliner, staring at the ceiling, apparently captivated by a daydream.
As I quietly approached Ms. Reid I caught her attention, briefly. Her Alzheimer’s dementia had advanced to the point that she often had difficulty communicating with others and couldn’t focus most of the time.
Except when she heard one word: Elvis.
“I see you like Elvis,” I commented.
“Uh?” she murmured, looking at me with some apprehension. I felt like an intruder who had just disturbed her pleasant thoughts. Elvis broke into another song.
“That’s a beautiful song,” I said.
Ms. Reid’s smile returned.
“Can you show me the Elvis book you have there?” I pointed toward a large book that she had laid on her table. A magnificent photo of Elvis graced the cover.
“Yes!” She eagerly replied.
I handled the book to her. Her delicate hands held it in such a way that it was obvious the book was one of her most treasured possessions. She started to flip through the thick pages.
Ms. Reid had very few words to express, but her eager eyes and her smile told her story. Somehow, Elvis’ songs rekindled in her warm memories of loving and charming times of her past.
I noticed the book contained information and pictures. At the end of the book, right before Ms. Reid closed it, I became intrigued by a small detail I spied. I noticed that the last two or three pages of the book had been ripped out. Ms. Reid seemed unaware of it. I frowned, and promptly switched my focus to her bright blue eyes staring at me. I smiled and encouraged further conversation about other items in the room. She had a tote with Elvis’ photo imprinted on it. An Elvis poster adorned a wall.
I left Ms. Reid in good spirit. And so was I, except for my curiosity about the missing pages of the book.
Months later, I thought of Ms. Reid when my husband and I spent a weekend in Memphis. We visited Graceland, Elvis’ home.
It was a magnificent tour. I felt vibrant while walking throughout Elvis’ home, looking at his fancy suits, his photos, his awards.
His soul was there. His talent was still alive.
The “Meditation Garden” was the last stop on the tour. That was Elvis’ grave. A feeling of emptiness embraced me. I turned around and left the area quickly.
After returning from my trip, I happened to meet Ms. Reid’s daughter at the nursing home. I enjoyed telling her that I had thought of her mother during my visit to Graceland.
“Her obsession with Elvis is really something new,” her daughter said. “One day she suddenly became an Elvis fan.”
“It seems to make her happy.” I replied.
“Definitely,” her daughter exclaimed. “She can get very agitated sometimes and Elvis’ music calms her down.”
“I’ve seen that,” I expressed. “I am glad it works out that way, but I have what may seem to be a curious question. I noticed that the last two or three pages of her Elvis book are missing.”
“Oh!” her daughter exclaimed and laughed. “My mother doesn’t know Elvis is dead. We don’t want her to know. So we tore off the pages that referred to his death and burial site.”
Of course! I realized, open-mouthed. I recalled the sadness that struck me at the Meditation Garden.
“It makes perfect sense!” I said, as I shook my head.