A dark, early December evening, Anna was playing violin at the retirement home, wheelchairs rolled up to plates of mashed potatoes. One woman sat at her table, solitary and hunched over. Her bowl of food comprised of sandwich bites was in front of her, gray hair pulled behind in a tie. She seemed frozen, unaware. Maybe she was at the mercy of those who provided for her. I didn’t know if she could move.
It was first just out of the corner of my eye. The violin played, and this woman’s head bobbed. I looked again, wondering if it was just imagined or incidental or an effort to eat her dinner. But then I realized she was moving to the music, anticipating notes with a sway or a bob. And when Anna played Waltz of the Flowers, there was a sudden energy. Not energetic, exactly, and not dancing, but rhythmic. She had life. To me, there was the signal that she was aware and reactive and maybe even felt joy in spite of the bowl of sandwich that sat idle in front of her and her wheelchair.
And then it went away when the music stopped.