Family and Friends

Musicians Say… | Professional Care Providers Say… | Volunteer Concert Liaisons Say…

family_001_1024

Family members say…

(To protect their privacy, the names have not been included)

“Dear Swan Songs – Austin, Thank you so much for honoring [my husband] with the very special flute music this week. Although he was very sleepy, I know the music touched his soul and brought him peace and joy. Please pass on our special thanks to the musicians for sharing their talents in this meaningful way. Sincerely, [wife of recipient]”
 
Christine and Kate, I just came back from a concert at Doug’s House. It was an amazingly emotional concert. When we came there we learned that the recipient was very sick and EMS was on its way. It was too late to stop the band so we decided that they would play for other residents. When the recipient passed the band on a stretcher – Oliver shook his hand and then led the band in a procession outside. They played until the ambulance drove away. We were all standing there in tears. I think we succeeded after all to give him the gift of music. They continued the concert after that and had the residents sing and dance to their music. No words to describe how meaningful it all was for the all present. Revital Ronen, Swan Songs Volunteer Concert Liaison

 
“Dear Ones: Saying thank you can’t begin to express our appreciation for the concert by Danny Britt on the 21st of August. [My husband] was especially touched. We invited friends and had at least 16 people here. What a fantastic organization. What a wonderfully talented musician. Many blessings” – wife of recipient

 
Thanks, Swan Songs.  What a wonderful service you and your talented musicians bring to those in need.   When someone is in the transition process, the hearing is the last sense to go.   What peacefulness and comfort you bring to those who are beginning their everlasting voyage and to their loved ones who watch them sail away.”

 

Thank you, Swan Songs, for giving my dying mother a true gift.  The pleasant and professional musician showed up with his guitar, sat at the foot of her bed and serenaded Mom with her favorite country classics for almost an hour.  The photographer captured magic moments of the joy radiating from Mom’s face.  The planner prepared thoroughly and attended to insure that all went well.  It did; far beyond our expectations.”

 

These days Mom doesn’t remember when I visit.  The morning after the concert she awoke humming and asking for ‘Cowboy George.’  Thank you for stimulating old memories and creating new ones of her favorite music.  Thank you for honoring her well.”

A letter from a patient family_002_1024

To Christine, Donna and all of those wonderful people at Swan Songs,

I realize that a “typed” note may be seen as impersonal and many times seen simply as being rude. Please understand that I type this more out of necessity than being impolite with my Thank You card. My hands simply don’t have the stamina to write at length. Typing may be slow, but much more legible than I could ever convey in handwritten notes.

It’s important to me that you understand the impact of what you did for me on that afternoon of February 8th with Van Wilks’ performance for my retirement from UT.

When I was first diagnosed with ALS I was so overwhelmed that I honestly had a difficult time accepting what was happening and even more so, what was going to happen in days to come. I did the standard “this doesn’t happen to me, only other people” to “why me?” After I gained some strength to rationally understand what all this was all about, I made three decisions that have changed my entire life.

One decision was to contact UT’s Employee’s Assistance Program where I’ve received phenomenal support and actually developed some close and loving relationships with people who are now wonderful, close friends for life.

The second decision was to decide to continue working at UT as long as I could. Most people during some point in their lives try to imagine what they would do if given a diagnosis of a fatal illness. I think my first thoughts were perhaps similar to most others. Cash in the IRAs and CDs and travel. But, it took little time for me to understand just what was most important to me. Work was my therapy. Besides, I didn’t want to rush being house-bound prematurely. Not only would I feel productive but I’m surrounded by loving, caring friends. To attest to that, you just need to look at the retirement send off they gave me.

My third important decision was to see out the ALS Association in San Antonio and hopefully join a local support group. My initial phone call (I could talk back then) was welcomed by such warm, caring people. From that point, I’ve not missed a single months’ support group meeting.

My first support group meeting was a heavy dose of reality. I was introduced to 17 ALS victims and their care givers. The degree of disabilities ran the entire spectrum, from some having no outward appearance of symptoms (I was in that group) to a few who were totally dependent on someone for their every need. It was scary to see what I saw as my future. That was one of the many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep. One of the totally disabled people caught my attention. His name was Gary who was only in his late 30s and had been diagnosed two years earlier. Gary was trapped in his own body. ALS does not affect the mind in a physical sense nor damage the memory. The affects on the mind are indirect in how each individual deals with it.

On good days, Gary could communicate by pointing his toe at an alphabet board and blinking when his toe pointed to the letter he wished to use in spelling out his message. On not so good days, his communication skills were reduced to blinking once for yes, twice for no.

During one of my early meetings I caught Gary on a good day and had to ask him just what kept him going. Without hesitation, Gary spelled out “memories.” I can’t prove it for certain, but I felt he “said” that one word with a smile on his face.

Gary has long since passed away. Of the 18 victims in my first support group meeting, only 2 remain, with me being one of those 2. I’ve been to more funerals than anyone should have to attend in an entire lifetime. It doesn’t get any easier, ever. But, that one word that Gary shared with me has remained with me. I fully understand the depth of what he said and the importance of embracing special moments with family and friends and even people we’ve never met before. That is you. That is Swan Songs.

You’ve so generously given of yourself, your time, your talents and your compassion to people you’ve never met. From the very bottom of my heart, I sincerely thank you for the memories you’ve now given me. Should my ALS take me to the limits that it took in Gary, I wish for you to know that the moments you’ve given me will be with me … forever. That is simply one thing ALS can never take from me.

Bless you all, from me and all the other lives you’ve touched. Thank you so very, very much.

Peace and Love…”

 

My mom passed away yesterday morning. I wanted to thank you for the lovely service that you are providing to those at the end of their life.”

 

My brother passed away June 7, 2010 after being diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer in 2008.  He lived a giving and generous life with his wife of 40 years.  The last two years of his life, he exemplified how to face death full of love, faith and grace.  Even with such a dire prognosis, he would sleep well at night because “it was in God’s hands” – and he truly meant it!

As a supporter of Swan Songs over the years, I requested an end of life concert at his home with family and close friends…how fortunate we were that Chris Gage and Christine Albert were in town and able to play on Friday, June 4th.  With their beautiful music, a beautiful life was celebrated with laughter, tears and prayers – a blessing for all of us.  On Monday, June 7th, he died peacefully in his home.  The Swan Songs concert is a memory we all hold close to our hearts.”

 

You arranged for Bill Oliver to perform for my dad at the hospice exactly two weeks ago tonight. My father passed away, essentially within hours of your and Bill’s visit.  We were all so grateful that you and Bill were able to make it out that night.  My sisters thought dad would make it through the weekend, but I was not as optimistic, so thanks again for arranging Bill’s performance on such short notice.  I really can’t say enough about how uplifting and cathartic it was for us to have that time together.  Swan Song is a special organization and one that we will support in whatever way we can.  In fact, I will shortly be sending the organization a note with our thoughts about our experience, along with a donation.”

 

On behalf of my Mom and myself we wanted to thank you so very much for the beautiful concert.  My Mom has always made music an integral part of our lives.  It was so moving, especially when Mom tried to sing along.  The performer had such a beautiful voice and played the guitar magically.  She was absolutely fantastic.  We were able to video a couple of songs.  Many thanks to her and the volunteer coordinator who also came to the house.  Thank you for sharing such a beautiful gift with us.”

 

I want to thank you for the awesome concert for our patient. The timing of the concert was perfect.  She enjoyed sharing the Cuban music, drums and maracas with ALL of the other residents, staff and guests at the facility.  She went home to meet Jesus two weeks later. Many blessings as you continue to touch so many with giving your Time, Talent AND HEART.”

 

The joy you brought to my patient, who is on hospice in the last stage of Alzheimer’s, was evident in her smile and clapping when she heard the western music and yodeling: something she enjoyed as a young adult.  Thank you for this service your organization provides.  Please accept the enclosed donation from the family to help continue spreading joy to others.”