For a week or so I kept seeing signs around my job talking about rehearsal for The Golden Age Games. I thought it would be something in the vain of Olympics for residents. I asked around and I realized it was more of like an indoor field day for residents. There would be games, activities, and a performance by each facility participating.
The theme for the year was “Music for the Soul”. I asked if our residents would be performing and I was told they were! I was so excited for them. They were going to perform Soul Man by the Blues Brothers. My manager asked me if I would go to the next rehearsal so that I could help get them all excited. She knows about the report I have with the residents and I agreed it would be a great idea.
One of the ladies from the activity department pulled me aside and said “I think you really need to be a part of this event. I’m going to talk to a few people to see if I can get you involved.” I told her it wouldn’t be possible because the day of the event I was already scheduled to work. On nights I work I’m the only cook on duty so I couldn’t very well be elsewhere. She assured me the shift could be covered and that I shouldn’t miss the event.
Usually only management and necessary CNA’s or Nurses go to the event. I went to he rehearsal and it was absolutely amazing! There were roughly 25 residents involved in the skit. It was a lip-syncing of the song. All of the “band” had inflatable instruments so that they could pretends to play while two residents took center stage and acted as the Blues Brothers lip-syncing and dancing along to the song.
I told them I was very proud and that we’d definitely win, when suddenly several employees said “We need him to be a part of it! He’s gotta do it!”
So before I knew it I was the hype man. I was going to be doing to entrance for the Blues Brothers and getting the crowd ready. I was to lip-sync the entrance from the original SNL skit.
I agreed and went and jumped around stage center trying to mime the most exciting intro I could muster. The residents suddenly got very excited. They were not only excited to show what they could do but they were excited that a lot of their favorite staff was involved with them.
After a couple of rehearsals my boss said to me “I think you need a live microphone and you need to do an actual intro for us”. I shrugged my shoulders, why not? Anybody who knows me know that I’m incredibly goofy, and I’m really good at getting people riled up and excited. So during the next rehearsal in the dining room the activites director handed me a live mic.
The music hit and I ran to center stage screaming with energy and speaking just as quickly and as excitedly as I could. I sounded like an auctioneer “Put your hands together! I mean REALLY put your hands together! For the greatest Blues act on this side of the Mississippi! All the way-“
My administrator put his hands up in the air and started waving them “Cut the music! Stop! Wait a minute.” So the music stopped and everyone in the room started cheering and whopping. Residents and staff alike. He looked at me with his eyebrow raised… “I did not know…”
“Oh you didn’t know?” I said into the mic? everyone started cheering wildly. Apparently I’m an amazing hype man. I said back in the mic turning do the resident “Nobody told him? Well now that we all know, hit that music because we’re about to go it again!”
There was a electric energy in the room that I could feel. I was feeding off this energy and I was now very deeply involved. The music started again and I ran out hyping the crowd, I told them I wanted the whole building to hear us! I’m shouting and hyping and running around while the residents in the skit take their spots on stage. As we start performing I look up and I see a crowd has formed in the doorway of the dining room. Staff and residents from all over the building appeared to watch us.
The hype had worked and the residents were very excited and proud of what they’d just done. We were convinced that we now had a winning act.
The event was early Tuesday morning. There would be eight other facilities participating in this years games. We were one of three larger groups while other facilities had about a dozen or so residents with them.
It was an exceptional time. We all had matching shirts with sunglasses and Blues Brothers hats. We were the first to perform. The other facilities did more cheers and little parades than they did a performance. We managed to win 2nd place on the performance losing only to the facility who helped run the event. Which we were a little dissapointed by, but still very excited and proud.
They had all sorts of games and events for the residents. Ball tosses, laundry sorting, bowling, indoor fishing, bingo and even wheelchair races. We found ourselves mingling and socializing with other residents from other facilities. We even started a soul train line that everyone started dancing in. It was a wonderful time and we even won Best Banner at the event.
The best part out of the whole day wasn’t the fact that I found out I’m an amazing hype man. It wasn’t that we had a killer performance. It was the amount of fun my residents and the residents from other facilities had.
They felt proud of what they had accomplished.
They had a fun day where they weren’t just sitting around the facility all day.
They basically had a giant party where they didn’t have to think about anything.
So many of the residents told me this was one of the best memories they’d had in my life, and I assured them that I would remember that day for the rest of my life because I truly will. There is something so satisfying about spreading joy. If I ever decided to stop working in a facility like this then I know I would volunteer at one or at least pick up a part time shift.
If you have free time, or if you just really want to get involved in stuff that is fun and exciting please look into your local nursing homes. Visit those who don’t get visitors or see if you can help the activities department plan exciting events or games. Not only will you change their days and maybe even their lives but I promise a piece of you will change too. Take the time to get involved and look up events in your area.
I promised my residents that next year we are taking home the trophy and I damn well mean it. Some of the greatest stories you’ve ever heard are living in people. People that are alive and have no one to share the stories with. I’ve met residents that dated celebrities, that have had Ted Talks, that have committed crimes, or have changed laws. There’s a whole breadth of history that will never make it into a book or a classroom and it is the history of people who have lived their life.
Your assignment for this post: Take the time to talk to someone who is at least 20 years older than you. If you want extra credit, take the time to visit a facility, homeless shelter, daycare or assisted living center and take the time to brighten someones day. I promise the stresses of your life will melt away when you make someone else smile.
Blues Brothers Skit