Over the years I had come to dread this weekly chore and today, as always, it filled me with such sadness. Tuesdays, on my day off from work, I would drive to the nursing home to visit my mother. There were times when Mom would look at me with her crystal clear blue eyes and say, “Do you know when Beth is coming?” “I AM Beth,” I would exclaim, over and over again when Mom asked me the same question until finally, one day I answered, “Beth is coming to see you soon.” Mom’s face lit up and she smiled.
As time passed, she didn’t ask for me at all.
One day, as I walked into the facility, I pressed the buzzer to alert the nurse who unlocked another door. It was December, and the dementia unit was cheerfully decorated for the holidays. Festive music played softly, and the smell of homemade cookies filled the air. The patients gathered around a table with the chaplain for the weekly church service, and I joined them, sitting next to my mother. The chaplain asked one of the patients if she would accompany the group on the piano as we sang along. The sound of old-fashioned hymns as well as Christmas songs filled the air. I listened closely as my mother sang joyously, remembering all of the words to the songs she had learned as a child. As the music filled the room, so did peace and hope.
Many years have passed since that last Christmas I shared with Mom, but in December each year I remember the message that I received that day; the message that became so clear to me so long ago. Music fills the soul, and hope reigns eternal.