Time to celebrate after a big show
Today the Steel Magnolias, Bobbie Smith, Melinda Johnson, Ruth Ifversen and I did a show at the South Lyon Medical Center in Yerington. It was more of a celebration than a show and I’m still ridin’ high.
To start everything off, I blare out, “Ladies and gentlemen, direct from their world tour, Ron Walker and the Steel Magnolias,” and in they come, spunky as ever. They are wearing their red outfits, with bells on their wrists and topped off with Santa hats. They range in years from early 60s to late 70s. I admonish the residents and medical staff to, “please hold your applause until we finish dancing,” a lame joke but a little jocularity is OK because the lives these people are living is no joke.
Melinda cues the music and the Steel Magnolias and I dance to the Chipmunks singing “Jingle Bells.” How can you be anything but happy listening to the Chipmunks? From there we follow up with “Across the Alley from the Alamo,” and “Lollipop.” I see a few smiles in the audience and some from the staff. A show is only as good as its audience.
There are at least 35 people in front of us and a few behind us. Some are in wheelchairs, others in hospital beds and a few walking with canes. These folks spend a lot of time just sitting in their rooms, or out in the hallway, so we want to bring a little excitement and fun into their lives.
It’s Bobbie and Melinda’s turn. Melinda comes from a long line of ukulele players. Her dad is a virtuoso, and Bobby just traveled all the way to La Jolla to take a lesson from him. Bobbie only recently decided it was time for her to play the ukulele. She joined up with Melinda and they are quite a team. When I announce that Bobbie is 93, she gets a big hand from the staff, and hopefully gives encouragement to everyone in the audience.
Now it’s Ruth’s turn to lead us all in a Christmas songfest. Her rendition of “Silver Bells” is so touching that her eyes mist up by the time she’s finished.
As the show draws to a close, we all walk around the room and shake hands with the residents and wish each one a Merry Christmas. One old timer, a grey-haired gentleman, sitting in a wheel chair is so bent over I don’t think he saw anything but our feet when we danced. He says to me, “Thank you, and please come back.” I shake his hand, and say “You can be sure we’ll be back.”
So why do we do shows at South Lyon Medical Center? Because it truly makes us feel good and it also might trigger memories when our audience danced and cavorted around like we did. Some of our audience is only slightly comprehending, and others are lost in a cloud of sadness, but all of them responded to the joy we offered them. And you can be sure, we’ll be back, probably around Valentine’s day.
Ron Walker can be reached at email@example.com