I was working in one of the stroke wards, where staff had asked me to play for a lady whom they knew likes music, let’s call her Amelia. In the bed next to her was a young woman, “Sarah”, whose parents asked if I knew any Abba. As I gently sang Fernando, Amelia slowly got up from her chair, and making firm eye contact with me, came towards me. The look in her eyes was one I felt could only be described as Love.
She came close to where I stood, and, being very careful to not disrupt my guitar playing, put her right hand on the back of my left hand, and her left hand on my right elbow, continuing to look me in the eye. As I carried on singing, she led us in a very gentle dance, which had Sarah’s mum in tears. Staff were watching, enthralled, and “ah”-ing, and the feeling I had was one of great tenderness, intimacy, and even romance between us for those brief moments.
After the song, Amelia spoke to me, and though she had difficulty with language (a common effect of stroke), and the actual words she used didn’t make sense, her tone and expression clearly told me of great appreciation and gratitude for this very special interaction that we had shared.
I then felt like singing Moon River, and Amelia stayed close and sang along, word perfect, to the whole song. This is a phenomenon we term Fluid Singing, where someone no longer able to speak (common in dementia as well as stroke), can sing all the words to a familiar song. It’s not seen all that often, but when it is, it’s remarkable to see, and, I imagine, gives the person a great sense of re-connection.