This is a story about the tremendous effect music can have on people with a terminal diagnosis. It concerns a lady in her 80’s that lived in a nursing home in Portage County, Ohio with dementia. When she came on to services with Crossroads Hospice, her family decided they didn’t need the service of a chaplain because spiritual support was prevalent. However, one day the nurse visited her and she exhibited all the signs of an imminent decline and possible death within 72 hours. The nurse asked the family if she could call the chaplain to give additional “prayer and care.” They agreed to the request.
When I entered the room to meet the patient, I did my typical routine introduction. And not long after we exchanged small talk, one response of hers led me to ask, “If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be?” And she replied, “I just want God to take care of me.”
At that moment, a hymn that I heard many times in church as a child and adolescent popped into my head. I said to the patient, “Did you know there’s a hymn that says just that same thing.” And I did my best to sing to her.
God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way,
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.
I barely got to the middle of the first line when the patient began singing with me word-for-word, correct tune also. We made it all the way to the end where she changed the words to “God will take care of me.”
I finished the visit with a prayer, and even received a nice smile. I returned to my car and made a phone call to the daughter. I told her about the patient singing the song and the daughter told me, “The only time she would have heard that song was when her mom took her to church as a little girl. How she remembered those words from so long ago with dementia is a mystery to me, but it has to be a miracle.”
I repeat the first line from above. “This is a story about the tremendous effect music can have on people with a terminal diagnosis.” Music is amazing.