Albert’s Story

It started with a phone call… “They tell me I won’t be able to take care of myself for much longer, I’m going to need a place to live. Can I come see your House?” Of course the answer was “yes” and within the hour Albert was seeing Malachi House for the first time. In ten minutes, he decided he “might like to live here.” And in another week he was at home in an upstairs bedroom. Quiet, reserved and polite, Albert never interacted with many of the residents or staff. He always seemed to be a loner. Clothed in his jacket and hat, he usually lay curled up in an almost fetal position in the middle of his bed. But at Christmas, he found love. As usual, all our residents received at least ten to twelve gifts each, but Albert never opened any of his. He spread them around the room and just looked at them. It wasn’t what was in the gift that mattered, it was the fact that someone cared enough to give the gift. Then, Santa arrived and magic happened. This little gentleman felt loved enough to accept and give a hug to this large, red-suited man whom he had never met. Neither face shows plainly in the photo, and it doesn’t matter. This is what Malachi House is: love for the unloved and hugs for the...

Richard’s Story

“Where was I?  That’s right, 1961.”  Richard sang to me and told me about his life through folk music he had enjoyed over many decades.  Sometimes, he would ask me to sing while he listened.  He smiled and said “I love listening to you sing.” Richard expressed his joy to stay at Malachi House, despite the fact that this included a cancer diagnosis.  Having been alone most of his life, Richard had no family or possessions.     He only lived two days with us, but since I had spent so many hours with him, we established a strong rapport. When I arrived for our next visit, his hospice nurse said Richard had but hours left.  Honored to sit with him, I went into the room, remembering how much he loved when I sang to him.   After singing some of his favorite songs softly, I knew time was coming to a close and I thought of one non-folk song which Richard had particularly liked at our last visit: the old Louis Armstrong ballad “What a Wonderful World.” The peace in the room was all-encompassing and after the last note, Richard took his final breaths before going into that next wonderful world.  In that moment, I learned firsthand the love that comes from serving as Christ wants us to...

Bob’s Story

A veteran, an amateur musician, and a former computer technician, Bob had a love of organization and music.  Bob was a true “giver,” so I wasn’t surprised when he volunteered to make an index of our entire CD collection in the basement!   He repeatedly thanked me for giving him something to work on that made him feel “useful.” As time went on, Bob’s condition began to decline.  He was no longer able to work on the CD indexing project, but he still wanted to hear music.   Having formerly played piano and identifying himself as such a “techie,” I just knew he would be delighted to play the Magic Piano on the iPad.  After playing “Scarborough Fair” with the Magic Piano application, he hugged the iPad to his chest with an unforgettable, child-like enthusiasm and said, “Amazing, just amazing!” Bob loved to share music with others and would often invite staff, volunteers, family , and other residents to join.  Bob was now bed bound, but at his request, volunteers, staff and I gathered in his room one day to sing “Amazing Grace” with him.  When we finished our song, Bob reached out, hugged me and said, “God bless you, God bless...

Georgella’s Story

“I saw a beautiful woman today, Her favorite word was love; She told me as she smiled, She told me as she sung.”   ~ a poem inspired by Georgella   Georgella loved to sing, so during our music therapy sessions, we decided to make a CD of her favorite songs.  This way, she could sing with her favorite artists anytime she felt like it. Now usually, when I help make a CD, the resident I’m working with will just list the songs by title.  However, Georgella, in her special way, sang each tune to me and I did my best to accompany her on the piano or sing along. Even though the CD was never finished, the process of creating the CD was an expressive and rewarding experience for both me and Georgella.  I once asked her how she felt when she sang and Georgella responded, “I feel beautiful and that’s something I haven’t felt often in my life.”  I felt so privileged to be able to offer her an experience that helped her feel...

James’ Story

Every Monday, two volunteers from St. Ignatius High School and I played music bingo with James.  He looked forward to this weekly tradition and enjoyed beating the younger men at the game.   James had a lot of unrest about his life, expressed through misplaced anger.  One day, James complained about the staff and his family expressing deep frustration, despair, regret and sadness.  After much venting, he admitted that he was actually grateful for the care he received at Malachi House and asked for the caregiver so he could apologize.  They both shed tears as he spoke.   Feeling tired and relieved, James expressed some spiritual unrest for the first time.   While not a religious man, at that moment he wanted to feel connected to God.  He fell asleep while I sang, “There Is a Balm in Gilead.”   In his final weeks, James was afraid to be alone and requested that I visit daily.   Although he nodded off most of the day, he would wake up to ensure he was not alone.  But, when I played live music for him, he allowed himself to sleep because he knew I was there.   I marvel that our connection made through a simple game of bingo helped James pass with a sense of calm, comfort, and peace.  ...