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The Old Man And His Harmonica

 As I was having lunch with my wife something caught my attention...

There right across us sat on old man in a wheel chair assisted by a caretaker. The scene was unremarkable until he pulled out his harmonica and began to play "jingle bells."  At first I was amused, who would be playing "jingle bells" on Halloween?  It sounded like a clever prank, something that me and my brother would do except in this case the one doing the prank was an old man with Alzheimer's.

By the look of him it seemed like he was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. He was mostly unaware of his environment, and he did not respond to the caretaker talking to him. But whenever he would begin playing that harmonica he would almost instinctively spring to life, smile, and serenade the entire room with his tunes.

I don't think that he knew it, but each time he played that harmonica it brought a smile out of all of us in that room.  It didn't matter what we were doing at that moment. When he played everyone listened.  Everyone for that split second was happy.

What was it that made everyone so happy including myself?

I believe that for a brief moment we all caught a glimpse of the human spirit at its best; that part of the spirit which lives on forever, which isn't conquered by circumstance or disease, that part which boldly says, "I am alive, and life is a gift." That part that refuses to die even when a person is dying.

For a brief moment everything was OK...

For a brief moment I was happy to be in the present...

For a brief moment God was the teacher, that old man his instrument, and I his student...

For a brief moment I was touched by the miracle of ordinary living....

For a brief moment I saw an old man become young through music...

For a brief moment my entire world was made a little more that old man... and his harmonica.


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