Olga S. Hardman


She smiled for the first time that day. For two and a half years Esther had spent every day sitting in that old dark green chair. It had a plastic patch on the side and a rip on the seat that seemed to grow little by little. Most of the time she just counted the dust particles that danced around in the stream of sunlight that came through the window. It was the only window in the room, so on cloudy days it was quite dark. On those days, Esther watched Abbie, the little old lady in the other bed. Just as the rip in the green chair seemed to grow larger each day, Abbie seemed to grow smaller.

Then, Germaine came. Germaine wore faded blue jeans and carried a guitar that was almost as big as she was. She must have been about 25 and she smiled a lot. One by one, 3 other patients were wheeled into the room and Germaine began to sing. Esther had never seen those other people before. She began to wonder if she could have died and gone to heaven. Wasnít that where such glorious sounds could be heard? She was certain, though, that that was a guitar and not a harp Germaine was playing. 

Suddenly, Esther realized that her hands were clapping and everyone was singing, "Heís got the whole world in His hands." Germaine was smiling broadly now and Esther felt an almost electric charge going through her whole being. She hadnít felt anything like this for so long she had almost forgotten about it. It was that exciting, wonderful, "glad youíre alive" feeling. It was then that Esther noticed Abbieís eyes. They were open, they were brown. She didnít remember ever seeing them open before.

"Oh, oh!" Germaine dropped that big book she had been carrying along with her guitar. The book landed right beside Estherís chair and she could read the bold letters that spelled out Music Therapy on its cover. Esther wondered what the words meant and if she would ever have that electric feeling again. She looked around and thought that no one looked quite as sad as they had before Germaine came.


He was old, he was Irish, he was Catholic, and he sat in the same place in the same pew every Sunday morning. He hated all these changes in the church. Why couldnít they leave well enough alone? It was just fine when the choir did all the singing up there in the choir loft. He could sit, letting his beads slip slowly through his fingers, and listen to the sacred sounds prepared by others.

Ah, but now the church was saying that he, too, must merge his voice with his brothersí and sing his praise to the Creator himself. "Well, not I, Iím too old to change." "Besides, I donít like all this noise in church." These were his thoughts, Sunday after Sunday.

Just after Easter, while the fragrance of lilies still lingered on the altar, the song leader noticed something unusual in the third pew behind the second pillar. The old gentleman with silver-gray hair who always sat there didnít have that angry look on his face. Instead, he had tears in his eyes as his lips formed the words, "I once was lost but now am found" and the organ thundered out "Amazing Grace."


Jeff sat in the first seat in the middle row. He had been in the first grade for 5 weeks now and had not spoken a word. He was what educators call "nonverbal." This was the first time the music specialist had been to visit in his room. She greeted the children with a song and they smiled shyly. All but one. Jeff just stared vacantly.

She stayed for 30 minutes. They sang "Lucy Lockett," clapped the rhythm of "Rain, Rain," and Ďput the beat in their feetí as they marched around the room. She played "Bobbie Shafto" on the recorder and finally, sang for them a lovely lullaby. She picked up her tuning fork from where it lay on Jeffís desk. As she turned to go through the door, she heard him quietly whisper, "Good-bye."

© 1988 Olga S. Hardman