Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings: singing at the Veteran's Hospital

My dad was a veteran of World War II. He went to North Africa and was wounded in his shoulder from the same shrapnel that killed three of his buddies. On top of a very wounded childhood, war fundamentally changed my father. He never talked much about it, but when he did, we knew that his time in the service meant a great deal to him.

I didn't understand that until I was much older. I am someone who doesn't believe in violent solutions to problems, but that doesn't mean I don't have a great deal of respect for our military folks and their families. I am grateful to them beyond words for what they do to serve our country and protect us and best they can.

During the last three years of my dad's life, he lived here in Albuquerque so we could care for him. All his health care needs were provided by the Veteran's Administration hospital and the care was superb. His doctors were warm, friendly and knowledgeable, he didn't have to pay for anything, and he loved going there and seeing all the other veterans.

When I began singing and performing around town, I knew I wanted to give something back to the community who had cared so well for my Dad and whom he loved so much. Now, every few months, Sugartime hauls its equipment to the VA and sets up shop in the lobby. Hundreds of folks pass thru there, on their way to doctor visits or to pick up a prescription or to visit someone or for therapy. Waiting for a prescription can take an hour or more. So we have quite an audience. It has become my favorite place to sing, because the folks there are so appreciative. On Friday, an older Vet came up to me and said, "Thank you, your angel voices are so soothing to our old vet hearts." I burst out crying.

What are you musing about today?


Odie Langley said...

As a veteran of Viet Nam & a patient receiving services at the VA hospital in NC I thank you for all you do. It really means a lot for us to know that people really care. God Bless you.

Siv Maria said...

Would love to hear you guys singing, can't you post it sometime? I am musing about holes today...They are everywhere, at least some angels are around to fill some of them up.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a wonderful way to give back, Karen! I'm a military brat and my father flew in Vietnam, so I have a very high respect for our military.

Jules said...

I would have bust out crying too! What a way to give back, veterans need so much more from us than a smile.

I'm musing the cleaning I left undone Friday! I thought the fairies would have took care of it this weekend. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Samantha Sotto said...

Awww...what a lovely thing to do! :) I saw your comment in L.G.'s blog and I knew I had to swing by. I'm glad I did.

Karen Walker said...

Odie, it is pure joy to do it.
Siv, are we talking pot holes?
Alex, me, too
Jules, hope the fairies eventually showed up!
Samantha, hi - glad you stopped by. Nice to "meet" you.

Jemi Fraser said...

You and your group are fabulous!

People who enlist in our militaries to protect and serve deserve all the respect we can give them.

L.G.Smith said...

That's a great service. And a bonus that you get as much joy out of it as your audience. :)

Karen Walker said...

Jemi, you are so right
L.G. yup yup yup

Nancy said...

Before reading your post, I hadn't got around to musing on this Monday morning. Now I'm inspired to muse on ways to show my appreciation for unselfish contributions to our community that I see happening every day.

Suze said...

Sugartime does have angel voices. I can just picture that moving scene, sweet Karen.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A heartwarming post Karen, I think the servicemen does a wonderful job and caring for them when they are older is a must.


Better is Possible said...

What a lovely post. Thanks for taking the time to use your voice to enrich the lives of others!

Karen Walker said...

Nancy, you're right - it is happening every moment of every day - we just don't notice.
Suze, awww, thank you, sweet one
Yvonne, they sure do
Better is Possible, thank you so much

GigglesandGuns said...

I think that I will be musing about your very touching post.

M Beth Vaughn

Julie said...

Oh, I almost cried just reading this. What a wonderfully touching moment.

I used to visit the VA here in town fairly regularly when I worked as a social worker, and it was always a very sad and depressing place. I can imagine your group singing in the lobby would have done wonders to brighten it up. Kudos to you for sharing your vocal talents in this way!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Most vets keep pretty mum about their wartime experiences, but it does them a world of good to know they haven't been forgotten. Bless you.

Karen Walker said...

gigglesandguns, will bop over to read your musings
Jules, yes, it can be quite depressing - I do think we liven things up a bit
Susan, yes, that is quite common

Anonymous said...

What a perfect way to give back to the community, Karen. But this is so YOU.

It makes me think of the great care my daughter had at Mt. Vernon Hospital in Northern Virginia in 1986-87 after her accident. She wouldn't get that level of care today, and I've always wanted to give back to them. Always wished I had something financially to give. Such hospitals deserve the greatest support.

I can just see how you brightened those veterans' lives! Warms my evening after a trying day. Thank you!!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. that's a fantastic thing to do .. and I bet everyone loves just being there and listening to you ..

Your vet had just the right words for you all ..isn't that superb - but they can knock on our emotion ridden door and bring the memory tears right out ..

I can quite understand that .. if you forgive me .. we have enough tears here today .. the heavens are pouring forth!! Not usual here - but the gardens .. trees, grass, shrubs, flowers, meadows, fields around are all mighty grateful ..

Blessings to this world in so many ways .. have a happy week .. your volunteering rocks .. cheers Hilary

Liz Fichera said...

Your post has me all choked up today. That is beautiful. My Dad was also a WWII Vet so Veterans have a very special place in my heart too.

Mary Aalgaard said...

That was so great to read. I play piano at an assisted living center and have brought some students with me. It's an uplifting experience for all of us.

anthony stemke said...

We vets appreciate what you do.
God bless you.