It was the spring of 2014, Mondays at 11 a.m. at Seaside Retirement on Hallandale, Beach. Each week, we would transform the activity room into a scene from a senior version of ‘Drumline.’
This wonderful, lively group of golden oldies included at least a few folks in their 90s, and one lovely lady who I believe at the time of this photo had recently celebrated her 103rd birthday.
I remember when Karen, my client, mentioned this to me. I felt a chill thinking that I had been blessed to share my personal joy for drumming with this entire group, and of course with Rose.
The regulars were loyal. At least a dozen each week. I remember them all so well because from day 1 they were always glad to be there. And I treated them like family, making sure they were all comfortable and engaged with me, each other, and my little rhythm class.
Some were not always up to the drumming. After all, though we kept things simple, Bambam Drumfun requires basic hand-eye coordination, fine- and gross-motor activation, and memory-tasks from pattern recognition, call and response, and stick technique.
Each week, we’d learn and practice the same basic rhythms with subtle variations and new wrinkles every now and then. And in between the practice beats and songs we’d eventually be drumming to there were riddles, trivia questions, and chit-chat.
For some, it was the chit-chat they most enjoyed. Me too. I learned so much from these folks. They were eager to share their lives, and I was a good listener.
Bless them all.
This facility would later be sold to a powerful Canadian family looking to develop high-rise condos. The residents, I later learned, would all be relocated to facilities across South Florida. Some had lived there for years, and as their minds and bodies declined, I can only imagine how confusing and traumatic the move might have been for them.
Our weekly classes together became 2x a month, then once monthly. Then . . . one dark day, no more Bambam Drumfun. No more Drum Captain Scott. No more door knock beat. No more silly riddles. It was a sad day for me.
But the memories will last a lifetime. For a while, that activity room was jumping. The staff would show up just to see it all. It was everything I’d planned for Bambam Drumfun, and more.
They loved Bambam Drumfun, and the feeling was mutual. I can still remember Roses’ big smile as she shuffled into the room, asking me every week as I greeted her, “Excuse me, what’s this?”
It’s Bambam Drumfun time, I’d tell her with a smile.
Bless Rose, bless this group, and bless Karen the Activity Director at Seaside for hiring me and making sure I got paid.