Touching Grace: A Moment of Humanity
By: Erica Hodgson, LMT
I’ve had the privilege of touching Grace. Literally. I’m a massage therapist for hospice patients. I work with all types of ailments in people of all ages. Today I was blessed with a gift. The best part about gifts for me, is that they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and packaging. When one is just off living life and then, BAM, the gift shows up and changes your world!
My patient has dementia. He will look right at you and start up a conversation, which most of the time you can’t understand, but he says things with such conviction, you just know there is quite a story that is being told! You look him in the eyes, smile and listen, you hear him. You take in his every word. His story is important to him and you are witnessing it. That’s an honor I don’t take lightly.
I frequently offer my patients some music while we do massage. I’ve found that with dementia, they come back to themselves and this special light pops from behind their eyes and they go into a space and time that is long before their diagnosis. It’s a special place that they forgot about until they “remember” with the music. It’s so magical! This patient was sitting in his chair and I asked him if he’d like some music. His caregiver and family member that were present nodded excitedly stating that he loves music and will sometimes in the evenings sing old songs with all the words correct, even when during the day one cannot understand a single word coming out of his mouth.
I have a special compilation of oldies for my Frank Sinatra loving group. I clicked on the music. The words traveled to the patient’s ears. As if by magic, the light switch got turned on and there right in front of me, the person was transported back to a time of joy, love, youth, hope and dreams! He stood up out of his chair, grabbed my arms into the ballroom dance position and proceeded to dance with me a few steps around the room. It was so unexpected and lovely. His daughter and caregiver were stunned, as was I. This patient came back to himself for a few moments and I got to witness it. To bear witness to this gift of humanity was the highlight of my day! The utter joy of the moment transcended through all of us who enjoyed this beautiful experience and left me once again, thrilled to be alive and allowed to humbly share in this sliver of an event of another’s life. As with all of these experiences that come without notice, last for mere moments, and change a person - truly change a person. I am grateful.