BOOK REVIEW Thank you to Sr. Imelda Maurer, cdp
A SONG JUST FOR ME: STIRRED BY MUSIC TO CONVERSATION AND COMPASSION
By Mary Kiki Wilcox
(Available at Amazon.com)
Carter Williams, social worker and elder advocate, professes with great conviction that relationships are at the heart of life. The small but fascinating book, “A Song Just for Me,” gives
evidence of this simple and profound truth. In story after story author Mary Kiki Wilcox shares with her readers a little of the lives of the residents to whom she brings her music – and theirs.
This collection of essays reflects
such an abundance let into the lives of the frail elders Mary meets. It is the gift of music which is really the context for the gift of mutuality which buds and develops under Mary’s sensitive presence and awareness.
It is through
sharing music that Mary sometimes comes to journey with a resident during his/her last weeks or days. She speaks of the sacredness of death and dying in a way that is known in its deepest recesses only when there is a personal relationship between the dying
person and the one who sits by the bed, who companions the other.
Each essay reveals that what is most desired and cherished by frail elders who need more and more support in their daily lives is presence -- the presence of another that
is marked by attentiveness, openness and compassion.
This book is highly recommended for anyone serving elders in any capacity in an aging services organization because it speaks succinctly and eloquently about what most makes a difference
in the lives of those elders we serve. There is only one word of caution. Mary uses the vocabulary she hears day to day in this organization so words such as “facility” and “unit” reflect an institutional mindset. As a strong
advocate for transforming the culture of aging services from an institutional mindset to that of HOME, I am very conscious that if we are to do that we must change our words. Our words reflect our mental images and our mental images give birth to our words.
Perhaps by way of full disclosure, I met Mary at a writer’s workshop in 2008. After hearing her read one of her essays to our group and hearing her talk more about her volunteer work, I expressed my conviction that if I were the director
of the campus where Mary lives and volunteers, I would consider her absolutely the most valuable person on the staff – even though she is not an employee. After reading her book, that conviction stands firm!