About 2 months ago, a former student of mine -- actually she was in my first class in Vancouver 44 years ago! --found me and asked me if I would be interested in working with stroke recoverees by rehabilitation through music.
I have just returned from the weekend at the camp in Squamish It was a wonderful way to spend Easter.
It was heartbreaking to hear the stories. One lady, with a couple of degrees in Education -- her Masters in Special Ed -- was standing in front of her class when she realized that she could not remember any of her students' names. She had completely lost her short-term memory.
My former student had a stroke when an ATV (all terrain vehicle) landed on top of her 21 years ago.
Another lady found that, one morning, she just could not open her eyes at all. When her children came home from school, she was still in bed! One eye is still frozen shut.
Another man stumbled into a restaurant and found he could not read the menu.
One young man, who had also been in an ATV accident at 35, kept telling me how much he enjoyed what I had done with the group. His mother had to interpret his conversation for me as I had a hard time trying to understand.
It can happen that quickly, and without warning. PLEASE if you get nothing else from the story, please realize that you have one body, and you HAVE to honour it by treating it well. This may not prevent anything like a stroke, but at least you would have done the best you could.
I was indescribably inspired by the spirit of these recoverees. They participated enthusiastically in all the activities arranged for them.
They went swimming, did yoga, sang, went on walks, participated in crafts --- Even the men made Easter bonnets and were in the Easter Parade alongside the ladies!
It was heart-warming to see the unconditional love shown by family care-givers --- the lady who had to do everything for her sister who sits frozen in a wheelchair . She made her Easter bonnet, wheeled her, at great speed,, around the dance floor, fed her at every meal; the tiny mother who did everything for her sturdy son who is confined to a wheelchair.
Despite the fact that many of the people I met this weekend are living with constant high levels of pain, they could still push through the pain, have a smile for you, and totally enjoy what they could of life.
At the dance on Saturday night, it was the first time I danced with a man in a wheelchair, and another whose arm is frozen against his body. It was really inspiring to see how much they all enjoyed themselves --- doing the tango, cha-cha, learning to do the Macarena, doing the polka. There was nothing they would not participate in.
They certainly showed us that every moment is worth living, After all, that is all we have.
They made me think of all the able-bodied people who spend their days complaining, when they really have nothing to complain about.
Another lady was telling me about the stroke club she belongs to. They lose about one member per month, and there is always someone to take that place.
When I left, I got so many hugs! It was a priceless reward!
I have been invited to visit a number of thse stroke clubs to do some music with them Seems I'm going to be quite busy!
The young man I had difficulty understanding when he spoke to me, sang all the words to the songs absolutely clearly.
Please look at what you are doing. Are you honouring your body or are you abusing it. Are you doing some of these activities?
Are you making every moment count? Is it joyful? You really do have a choice. It is all about attitude.
Love and Gratitude,