The Alamitos Belmont Rehabilitation Hospital’s Summer Solstice Candlelight Dinner
I’m not sure how to begin this, without sounding like an ingrate; but I’ve got to try, while it’s fresh in my mind. It’s too good.
For all the help I require and receive as a long term nursing facility resident, I am perpetually torn between feelings of deep resentment and those of deepest gratitude, especially for the bare essentials, like bed, board and care. So when the Activities Director teamed up with the Dietitian to put on a soiree celebrating the beginning of Summer it was a welcome break in the monotony – very special, indeed.
The menu was special. Cornish Game Hens and Angel Food Cake made it so. Fresh flower centerpieces beside battery-lit candles on linen tablecloths cinched the special decor. But it was the one-woman sing-a-long soul review that made this special dinner unforgettable… on many levels
From the onslaught, you could tell something was wrong with “My Cheri Amour” but putting a finger on it was where the excruciating fun began. Sure, she was pitchy. Hell! She slid from flat to sharp with such aplomb, the more sour the note, the more she’d sway… eyes rolled back in her head… free hand fanned through her hair, revealing a deep, wide-spreading inward grin and then – pop – right back at ya, with a wink and a bite off a Diana Ross smile. (You know the one.). She was amazing.
Whatever the reason, her one woman show was working, gaining momentum and new singers with every golden oldie. She’d picked her play list wisely. We all knew the words to every tune. But that wouldn’t guarantee our willingness to sing along. Did she know how mesmerizing she was? Did the audience care how painful her singing was? With each rendition her confidence grew,regardless of what anyone knew. By “I Can See Clearly Now” every voice in the dining room was vying to be heard. Every wrinkled face unlocked and smiled back at our soul Diva, as she reached out and touched bony, purple hands, outstretched, magnetized by her body, every time she’d sweep past. And so went the night. .
Looking back, I remember a moment when “What A Wonderful World” was just getting started, the singer put a little more breath and husk in her voice and, as I chimed in, I fought back tears.
C 2010 David Brunoehler