Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Would Do It Again in a New York Minute

As promised, I am here to fill you in on my recent trip to Racine, Wisconsin. A week ago today, Reflection, a group of singers from Woodland Park, Colorado, departed despite snowy roads and cold temperatures at 5 a.m. for the great state of Wisconsin. One of our members hails from Racine and was kind enough to set up some concerts for us.

I had never been to Wisconsin before and looked forward to the visit. We also drove through Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois coming and going, depositing tolls to support their economies all along the way. One thing I was just a bit concerned about was whether I'd be able to find vegetarian options along the way. To my surprise, Nebraska was the easiest place for me to eat. I laughed about it because my husband had said, "Don't expect too much from Nebraska. Beef is a huge industry there and they'd laugh in your face if you told them you don't eat meat. Just order dessert. Thankfully, I was able to find more than a good piece of apple pie. In a truck stop in Hershey, NE, I found the best loaded baked potato EVER! And it was my birthday, so it was a double treat!

I wanted to share a little about one of the places we sang over the weekend. We were scheduled to sing in an assisted-living facility in Kenosha. The activities director, a lovely young woman named Heidi, was gifted in both patience and tact and took care of her residents with great precision and compassion. The residents were all in varying stages of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease and tended to wander about aimlessly, some telling and retelling stories to their Saturday evening visitors. One kind lady told us of being born in Racine, yet growing up in Germany during WWII. Once the war was over, she was allowed to return to the States as she was a US Citizen (Her parents were German). She had a thick accent and asked me repeatedly from where I hailed. And each time she learned I was from Colorado, she relived her earlier years of skiing the slopes of Aspen and Vail.

Another lady, wandered around looking for her purse. She grabbed our director's bag and off she went, followed in hot pursuit by Heidi.

Once our sound system was set up and the residents were calmed, we began our concert. I was singing lead in one of the songs when a little lady came in from behind and weaved in and out of the singers.  Diana, one of our sopranos, danced with her and kept her busy. She even took my microphone and told me it was her turn to sing. Only she didn't sing. She said in full voice, "HELLO". Then she walked away.

At the end of the concert, which Heidi seemed to enjoy despite her aerobic workout, we were given a package of gourmet cookies in thanks. But the pleasure was all ours. The residents were a joy to sing for and I'd do it again in a New York minute.

Next time, I'll write about my host family, John and Dianna Wells. They were like visiting long lost relatives and I can't wait to find a time to visit with them again.

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