My daughter called me last week to tell me about ‘something amazing’! She made a loaf of homemade bread for a friend whose 97 year old comatose mother moved in with her. My good Samaritan daughter wanted to leave the bread at the door and run. She did not intend on staying for a visit, but her friend invited her inside and asked her to say hello to her mother. My daughter had never seen anyone in a coma and was a little apprehensive, but as she walked down the hall and heard singing coming from the bedroom.
She walked into the beautiful little room, heard the heart monitor beeping and saw the little 97 year old lady sleeping in a coma. My daughter was amazed to hear the comatose lady humming and tapping her toe to the tune, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart“, with one of her daughter’s who was sitting next to her singing. What a comfort to know that when the mind is unconscious and normal communication channels are blocked, the subconscious mind hears and responds to the language of music.
Her phone call reminded me of when I visited my grandmother who was in a vegetative coma after a hip surgery many years ago. She was kept alive with a feeding tube for about seven years and was unable to speak or move on her own for the rest of her life. The first time I visited her nursing home, I felt some anxiety because I had never seen anyone in this condition. I remembered her for always having a sewing project, baking delicious meals from scratch, helping with potato harvest, making beautiful quilts and singing lullabies to my babies. Selfishly, I wanted to remember her that way, not the way she was. As I entered the room, her eyes followed my every move. I immediately relaxed and realized how happy she was for some company. I refreshed her dry wrinkled hands with lotion and showed her photos of my children and talked to her about our latest adventures. After a short visit, I told her goodbye and promised to return soon. I didn’t realize that I would only see her one more time.
The last time I saw my grandmother, my sister and I spent the afternoon singing duets and harmonizing to favorite gospel songs at her bedside. Grandma couldn’t hum along because of her paralyzed state, but her soft tear-filled eyes reassured us that the music touched her heart and her firm grip let us know that she appreciated the time we took out of our busy lives to bless her day with music. At the time, I didn’t know I would be moving thousands of miles away and would never see her again. I’m so grateful for the music memories we made together that day and can’t help but wonder if she is singing and dancing with angelic choirs in Heaven.