you may ask yourself
Sunday, October 27. Mingo County, West Virginia.
We’re visiting my brother-in-law, Paul, at the nursing home on top of the mountain in Williamson. It’s a typical visit. We bring Coca-Colas and 7-Ups. Not Pepsi. Not Sprite. Coca-Colas and 7-Ups. We drop them off at the dining hall where a local gospel group is beginning to play. Two men, two women. An acoustic guitar wired to a little Fender amp. They sing loudly, all feeling, no nuance. Gathered around are the usual assortment of residents in wheelchairs.
Paul is there but he has no interest in staying so we go back to his room to visit a little. After a while, it’s time to leave. We hear the music from the dining hall so we go back to listen for a bit.
The music is as country gospel as you can get, full of twang and southern West Virginia. They’re singing a song I’ve never heard.
I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand.
Of course not like the video I just linked, but it’s the same song.
And there’s a lady lying horizontal in a wheelchair, clutching her sippy cup, her eyes closed. And she’s singing along.
In the back is another lady mouthing the words.
Gertrude, who says she’s ready to be with the Lord, is singing too.
John Michael looks to be in his thirties. He wheels up and asks for a microphone and one of the ladies obliges. John Michael sings his heart out, even if his voice is not what he wants it to be.
It’s hard not to be touched.
We finally leave and make our usual stop at Mickey D’s for coffee for the long ride home. Over the sound system, the Talking Heads song, Once in a Lifetime, is playing.
I remember the quirky alternative-rock song from so many years ago and it gets stuck in my head. I can’t remember all the words and when I get home I find it and play it.
you may ask yourself,
well, how did i get here?
David Byrne’s philosophical musings about how life blazes by and here we are. How did we get here?
Most folks in the nursing home are probably not prone to introspection, but there a few. I’ve talked with a veteran with no legs and he may ask himself.
Larry has family issues that haunt him. He may ask himself.
Our friend Peggy would. My God, what have I done? Not a question she would ask in vain, but a sincere pleading.
And so it goes.
Same as it ever was.