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A Different Perspective

Posted Dec 12 2008 3:43pm

Last Saturday was the first time that I was an audience member and not an ensemble member when the Silver Notes Accordion Ensemble performed. It was a different perspective.

Prior to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), I was an amateur accordion player who performed with this ensemble. However since DBS, I’ve been forced to set my accordion aside until my dyskinesia gets under control. You can imagine how difficult it is to play the accordion with flailing arms and legs while wiggling on a chair.

My role changed from entertainer to audience member. Before I was a participant in life, and on that day, I felt like a mere observer.

The audience was composed of about sixty World War II veterans who were residents in a long term care facility (e.g., nursing home). Most arrived in wheel chairs, with different disabilities and various degrees of alertness. Many seemed heavily medicated.

While waiting for the accordionists to perform, I sipped coffee from the Caribou Coffee Shop and noticed on the side of the cup their catchy slogan, “Life is short. Stay awake for it.”™

I was struck with the realization that many of these veterans, members of the Greatest Generation, had lived most of their lives based on Caribou Coffee’s philosophy until being struck with disease and old age. Their new philosophy seemed to be “Life is long. Stay asleep for it.”

But at least they were there in body, although some, not in mind. It would have been easier to stay asleep in their comfortable warm beds instead of getting up to face the day. They were trying to stay awake for life.

They refused to adopt the philosophy of “Life is short. Stay away from it.” They hadn’t given up on life and gave me a different perspective.

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