Monday, November 03, 2008

Brought to tears

Today I payed a visit to my podiatrist. Just a simple adjustment to my Orthodox. Helps keep my plantar faciatis at bay! (4 years pain free, knock on wood!)

My doctors office is located in a medical building next to a senior community (Laguna Woods). As you would expect most of the doctors in the building specialize in treating the elderly. Sitting in the waiting room amongst much wiser and experienced patience, it was nice to be the youngest!

Most of the patients were escorted by a care-giver or who I assume was their adult child. I watched a woman (probably 60-something), with grey overly permed hair and those weird beige, plastic looking shoes that old people wear, trying to escort her mother out of the waiting room. Her mother was probably in her late 80's, with thinning white permed hair and the posture of someone who once stood much taller. (She also wore the same lovely beige shoes.)I thought how much patience it took on the part of the daughter to follow next to her mom as she slowly, ever so slowly scuffed along with her walker.

How interesting it is that our roles reverse as we age.

I finished scheduling my next appointment and headed toward the parking garage. I could hear beautiful opera music playing loudly from another building. It was unmistakeably Italian, deep, powerful, full, emotional, beautiful. The sound was traveling into the parking garage and as I approached, I could hear it echoing like a concert hall. It was so moving, so overwhelming I actually stopped walking so I could hear it clearly over the clicking of my heels on the pavement. I stood there listening, actually feeling goosebumps form on my arms. The music got louder and more impassioned. I thought I must have been heading toward the car playing this music.

The vibrato of the woman's voice vibrated through my bones. Such power. Such a gift. I wondered what it must feel like to be able to sing with such perfection. Where was this music coming from? Just then, I turned to see the tiny little old lady who had been in the waiting room with. There she stood, propped against her walker, serenading the parking garage. It was the most unbelievable sight. This tiny frail woman with this enormous gift. Her voice brought all who were walking through the garage to a halt.

She sang two songs. We applauded and everyone went on their way. I tried so hard to hold back the tears. I could feel my chest tighten, tears welling in my eyes. It was just the most beautiful moment, the most beautiful reminder of how precious life is. I literally stood there in the middle the lot with tears of joy streaming down my face. She finished and her daughter went about helping her climb into their giant Oldsmobile. I walked to her car and asked I could give her mother a hug.

Her daughter told me that as a young immigrant, her mother supported her large family by singing in restaurants. She said her dream had always been to be an opera singer. "Now," she said, "she lives for her doctor visits so she can sing in the parking garage. Not for anyone in particular. She just loves the way it sounds."

I thanked this tiny woman with a giant voice for making my day, my week, my month. She smiled, patted my hand and assured me, "God gives all of us blessings. May God bless you."

What a beautiful moment.


Br!tt said...

Awwww... That must have been so awesome to see! That sweet old lady, bless her heart. :)

Renee said...

how inspiring...thanks for sharing. :)
i miss you...i need to get back in the workout routine...since our boys came home 5 months ago i have only worked out a couple times...eeekkkk ...i feel gross too!
love ya

Leili said...

What a beautiful story.

Tara said...

Wow--that is beautiful. I love to sing, but could never do opera justice, so I have a huge appreciation for anyone with a great voice. How wonderful of that woman to share her gift, for the sheer joy of the parking garage acoustics! :)

I would have hugged her, too. Thanks for sharing, Chalene!

Iza-Zulkifli said...

this entry brought tears to MY eyes!

Liz said...

What a beautiful story! Reading even made me tear up. My mother worked for retirement homes while I played the part of the granddaughter to all the elderly people there. Even when I was older my first job as 16 was a respite care worker for one woman. I was basically her friend everyday for 4 hours after school because her family didn't like to visit so instead they would pay me ($8/hr) to sit a talk with her.
I believe there are too many people in the world that dismiss the elderly but they have such great gifts to share with all of us if we would just take the time to listen.
Thank you for this story!

mum1228 said...

Wow, you brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing. Your Turbo Jam does the same for us who love your workouts. It may not move us to tears, but it moves us!! :)

Naptress said...

WOW! Chalean...thanks for sharing that..simply beautiful!...oh and by the way I have lost 30 pounds doing turbo jam...I'm completely addicted to it..I talk it up on Twitter all the time...I will be getting Chalean Extreme when it comes out no matter what, I'm unemployed right now but I will make that happen lol..

deedmeyer said...

Oh wow...what a moment. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Beautiful...

Anonymous said...


I just finished reading your recent blog: Brought to Tears. I just want to say, “Welcome to my world.” I don’t know if you know this or not but I work with the elderly. I am a speech pathologist and I work in the Rehab department of a nursing home. I work primarily with stroke victims and head injury patients. My specialty is working with patients with swallowing disorders, and I help to wean them from their tube feeds, and get them eating orally again.

I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years and I have always considered my job more of a calling than a profession. I take what I do quite seriously, and I think that shows in my patients. Over the years I have met some of the most incredible men and women—people who exhibit such courage and determination that I often am in tears. I fall in love with each and every one of them and when they “graduate” from therapy and get to go home, it’s such a triumph for all of us.

I teach my children to respect their elders. I’ve taught them to give their seat to a Grandma or a Grandpa if there is no extra seating in a waiting room. I teach them to look adults in the eyes and converse with them. I’ve often taken my girls to the nursing home so they can see that old age is not a disease, it’s a fact of life, and that there is much beauty in it, if you look closely enough.

I often see Jesus walking the halls of the nursing home. I see Him in the toothless grins of those who are wheelchair bound. I see Him in the labored rise and fall of a heavy bosom, and I see Him in the surprising strength of someone who is determined to beat the affliction and go home to their families.

I know that Turbo is your life and that you are hard-wired to do it. I feel the exact same way about speech pathology. I have found my passion and I am one of the lucky ones who gets to live it out on a daily basis. Thank you for noticing that little woman singing in the parking garage, and thank you for approaching her with love and appreciation. I’m sure it meant the world to her.

You are a very special woman.


Cindy Nirenberg

Jenn said...

Hi Chalene,
Before my wellness journey sent me back to nutrition school to become a wellness coach in East Hampton NY, I was a geriatric social worker. Every single day I had moments like the one you described. These beautiful beings who may not stand as tall as they once did are so amazing. Aging and disease cannot touch the human soul. I am so glad that your day was blessed by this woman's gifts. Each morning as I work out to Turbo Jam I thank God that you stepped into your light, that you embraced your gift. I am so glad you got witness another's gift. You deserve it for all the light you bring into so many lives each day. Many of whom you will never ever know. I hope to one day come out of a doctor's appt and find you doing TJ in a parking garage. May God continue to bless you. Thank you for reminding us that every day holds many gifts if only we take the time to recognize them.

In gratitude,
Jenn Taylor

RawFitMama said...

OMGosh...that was beautiful. I felt like I was there with you. My daughter has Autism and was in a talent show a few weeks ago with all of her friends who also have disabilities. it was a beautiful afternoon of instrument playing and singing from the soul. it IS indeed those moments that remind us that there is a MUCH bigger picture in life. I'm happy you got to experience that moment.

Alice said...

Thank you for sharing this story Chalene.

Tiff Gatten said...

Wow! Thanks.

MelanieB said...

Gosh, I LOVE when moments like that happen. You were lucky to get to be there to experience it. Thank you for sharing.

Austin said...

Thank you for sharing that story. Reality Check!

Amy J and Scotty said...

Oh my goodness! That is so amazing! I wish I was there to hear it:) You are so inspiring, and that woman was so inspiring:) I would have cried too. Thank you so much for sharing this story:) It is always nice to be reminded of how precious life is:) I hope to be more like you one day:) I wish I had the strength and the courage to hug more people, more often:)

Munchkin81 said...

Just by reading this story, my eyes filled up with tears and my chest tightened. This story is beautiful and reminds me to appreciate every moment of my life. Thank you Chalene for sharing this story with us; it makes my heart smile! (I'm corny, i know! :) )

Anonymous said...

What a blessing that story was to me...I have told it many, many times since reading it. Life is so short, and although we often get lost in the "stuff" it is the "moments" like these that remind us of what a blessing it is just to be alive. Thanks for sharing!

Jen Armstrong

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful.