Song in Pauline’s heart liberates songs in another’s heart
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
The song in Pauline Tan-MacNeill’s heart (left) inspired author Annette Stanwick (right) with a meaningful way to connect with relative with dementia.
The song that broke forth from the otherwise voiceless Pauline Tan-MacNeill (our Feb. 23 column) has continued to echo in the lives of many of our readers.
I’d like to share with you the impact of her story on just one of our coffee companions, Annette Stanwick, and how Pauline’s song helped liberate the songs from deep within the heart of another voiceless patient.
You’ll recall that Pauline, a well-regarded former nurse, had been a resident in Cochrane’s Bethany Care Centre because of an incurable degenerative brain disease that had left her unable to speak during the last six months of her life. Her husband, Doug, invited my wife and me to sing some of her favourite hymns to her. When we had barely begun the refrain of her all-time favourite, she shocked all those present by audibly joining in. Not even her degenerative brain disease could silence the song in her heart.
When Annette read that column, she replied immediately, “Wow! It is so amazing that music could touch something so deep in her soul!”
That weekend she and her husband Clay would be visiting a 54-year-old relative with severe dementia who could barely communicate with others. “She used to love to sing and had a beautiful voice,” Annette said. “My husband and I love to sing. As a result of your column, we will go prepared to sing. We pray that we can reach her with music.”
Annette is an Alberta-based speaker, coach and author. Along with her own inspirational speaking, she and Clay facilitate marriage seminars and seminars for lifers in federal prisons. I featured her award-winning book, Forgiveness: the Mystery and Miracle, in my July 9, 2008 column. It is her story of the freedom she experienced in forgiving the murderer of her brother.
Now, in response to Pauline’s story, Annette and Clay helped a beloved relative re-experience the songs in her own heart. Annette explained their visit this way:
© 2017 Warren Harbeck