“YOUTH IS WONDERFUL, IT’S A SHAME TO WASTE IT ON THE YOUNG”- MARK TWAIN
The band I am in, Bold Adventure, played a gig at an America Legion Hall where the average age of the party goer was in the 70s. When we were setting up the equipment, I had serious reservations that we were the right band for this party. About half of our set is original music written by me or Scott, the other songwriter in the band. My songs are primarily in the country genre and Scott’s are rock. Our cover songs range the gamut from Steppenwolf to Tom Petty to Stones. We are a five-piece band and can be aggressive and loud.
As we got underway, I thanked the crowd, numbering nearly a hundred, for their service and got a few chuckles when I mentioned it might be best if they turned off their hearing aids. Only one woman with a 12” beehive hairdo came up to the stage and said it was too loud. Maybe she was a retired librarian.
We got a hearty round of applause after playing my tribute song to the military, “Cut One, We All Bleed.” When we played slow cover songs like Wild Horses, Sea of Love and Wonderful Tonight, the dance floor filled up. I noticed one of the men squeezing his dance partner’s butt while dancing. The power of the blue pill.
Of late, one of my parents ended up having to do some short-term rehab in a nursing home. We chose a nursing home with a large presence in the area with a good reputation. However, the halls were lined with wheel chair bound residents, their skeletal faces and hollow eyes paying no attention as we walked by. Moans or gibberish wafted from rooms. The staff was a mixed bag of quality, caring professionals and apathetic, unmotivated employees. Having spent my twenties and thirties as a paramedic, responding to numerous 911 calls at nursing homes, I was not surprised at the conditions or the staffing. It’s a nursing home, don’t expect Five-Star service.
My attitude towards the infirmed back then, in the prime of my life, with no clear expectations about who/what I would be in 30+ years, was clearly skewed. I was less empathic and caring as I should have been. I felt as if these nursing home calls were a nuisance. They were less important than the gunshot victims or heart attack patients upon which I could be using my life saving skills. I couldn’t see that three or four decades earlier, these elderly folks were probably just like me. Young and in their prime, proving themselves and forging a life in really difficult times.
I know we can’t go back as they did in the movie Cocoon, but if I could, I would certainly do things differently on those nursing home calls. And I hope that in ten or fifteen years, I will be that frisky dancer.