Marie’s Story

Marie lived at Malachi House for several months.  On the day of her arrival, Marie saw me with my guitar and called out to me.  From then on, we spent much time together making and creating music. When Marie felt her life on this earth was coming to a close, she became extremely focused on the need to plan her memorial service.  She trusted me with this task, starting with picking a song which she desired to have played at the funeral. I was able to call in the seminary volunteer to have a joint meeting with Marie to plan her service.  The night after she finished planning her service, Marie’s condition severely declined.  I was able to send all of the arrangements to Marie’s son, as she had previously requested. At the funeral, only one picture was placed in Marie’s casket. . . it was a picture of her and me holding a guitar and smiling.   Music therapy brought Marie joy and comfort not only in this life, but as she transitioned into the...

Tom’s Story

Music had always been a part of Tom’s life since he was young.  Being blind, Tom gained great joy from music.  This was apparent from the day he moved in when we saw his very large Grundig radio.   The radio took up an entire corner of his small room and was his prize possession along with his harmonica. Tom immediately jumped at the chance to make music with someone else and taught me many songs from the fifties, especially “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” and “Withcraft.”  Occasionally, family members came to join in on the music making as well.  Although we played the same few songs every time, Tom never tired of making music together. I will never forget when I had gotten a little busy and had not come to see him for about a week.  Tom said very politely, “Please come often.  This is very therapeutic for me.”   I never went more than a few days without seeing him again. Tom quickly got the nickname “Harmonica Tom” and everyone enjoyed hearing the music come from his...

Catherine’s Story

Catherine’s stay with us was short.   At 98, she had continued to live alone but she really needed more help than either she or her family realized.  Hospice was called and Malachi House was suggested; Catherine agreed and moved in that week. She was happy to be here.  Catherine had been a hard worker all of her life and somehow, just being here had given her permission to sit back, relax, and enjoy her remaining time. A timeless Italian beauty, Catherine greeted all of us with her beautiful smile and often kissed our hands when we visited her room.  Her answer to any request was “OK honey,” mostly due to her congeniality, but often because she was hard of hearing and had no idea what we said!  Her grace was evident and it was a pleasure to care for her. Our favorite memory of Catherine however, was watching her face light up when her great-great-grandchildren visited her.  A child-bride at 14 years of age, she had been married to her husband for 80 years before he preceded her in death.   What a family legacy to behold! It’s true that Catherine’s stay with us might have been short, but her smile will be remembered by all of us for a very long...

Elizabeth’s Story

Music brings comfort and peace to those who are nearing the end of life.  Elizabeth helped me realize that our residents bring the same feelings into our lives. Elizabeth arrived feeling fearful and anxious.  She was tearful when I met her, but upon seeing my keyboard her tears dried and instantly, we bonded.  Elizabeth loved music—especially hymns—and requested to hear, “Whatsoever You Do.”  I knew the song well and happily sang it for her.  She thanked me because she felt a connection with the lyrics. “Whatsoever You Do” became our song and we shared it every session.  One day, Elizabeth held my hand and made a special request, “When I have left this world, will you come to my room, close the door and play my song for me?  Although you will not see me, I will be here.”  I agreed. Each visit Elizabeth and I sang, and she reminded me of her request.  We shared our song the day before she died.   The next day, I knew we still had one more song to sing.  I went into her room and closed the door.  As I sang and looked around the room, I felt calm and peaceful.  I knew Elizabeth was there. . . I had kept my promise. . . and she kept...

Frank’s Story

Frank was one of those residents who touched our hearts the first day he arrived.  Not because of a big smile or an enthusiastic greeting, but by whatever draws one person to another. Frank didn’t join us for meals at the dining room table like some residents do; he chose instead to eat alone in his room.  Afterwards, he’d visit his “buddies” on the smoking porch, which was where he seemed to come alive and feel part of the group. Daily, Frank would sit on the porch, just watching visitors come and go.  He recognized who did and didn’t belong at our door, and he knew everyone’s family members.  Gradually, he became comfortable enough to join us at the table for meals.  We were all elated when we saw the first real smile from him. One morning, several weeks into his stay, Frank mentioned he was like the “security guard” of our Home.  That day at lunch, our Executive Director, Mary Kay, appointed him as “High Sheriff” of our smoking porch and presented him with an “official” badge and a sheriff’s hat.  His grin during the presentation was ear-to-ear! This may not seem important or special to some people, but to Frank and his Malachi House Family, it truly meant all the...